San Diego’s Petco Park is known as a pitchers’ park. On Friday, it was anything but.
One day after the highest-scoring game in the park’s three-year history, the Atlanta Braves will look to extend their longest winning streak in nearly two months Saturday when they continue their three-game series with the NL West-leading Padres.
The Braves (41-49) beat the Padres 15-12 in 11 innings on Friday. The teams combined for 36 hits, a Petco Park record, and eight homers, matching the ballpark record.
“That’s not what we really had in mind to open up the second half, but it’s a win and we’ll take it, because God knows we need as many as we can get right now,” Atlanta first baseman Adam LaRoche said.
LaRoche homered twice, drove in five runs and capped a three-run 11th with a two-run double as the Braves won their third straight overall for their longest winning streak since taking four in a row May 24-28. Chipper Jones also homered twice and Andruw Jones added one, but the Braves’ bullpen blew save chances in the ninth and 10th innings, raising their total this season to a major league-worst 20.
Atlanta, which opened a 10-game road trip, used each of its seven relievers.
“Our bullpen has really been going good, and their bullpen is really good, and you would never imagine something like that,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
“There’s no way to explain this type of game. I’m not even jumping up and down by winning it.”
The Padres (48-41) rallied four times to tie the game, including once in the 10th inning, but closer Trevor Hoffman blew a save in the ninth for just the second time in 26 chances. Hoffman, who also blew a save in Wednesday’s All-Star game, allowed a run for the first time in 13 appearances.
The Padres tied a club record for an extra-inning game by using nine pitchers, including losing pitcher Clay Hensley, who is scheduled to start Tuesday against Philadelphia. Adrian Gonzalez homered twice and Mike Piazza also connected as San Diego’s five-game winning streak ended.
“It’s tough to lose like that after coming back so many times,” Piazza said. “But this team is tough and will bounce back.”
The Braves are hoping John Smoltz (6-5, 3.60 ERA) can give its exhausted bullpen some rest on Saturday. He won his second straight start last Saturday, allowing one run and six hits in eight innings of a 4-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The 39-year-old right-hander, who has lasted at least six innings in all but three of his 19 starts, matched his season high with 10 strikeouts and passed David Cone’s 2,668 for 20th place on the all-time list with his second strikeout.
Smoltz is 14-8 with a 2.63 ERA and eight saves in 42 career appearances, including 33 starts, against the Padres—his second-best ERA against any NL team. He is 1-0 with a 0.52 ERA and two saves in four appearances, including two starts, at Petco.
Smoltz has won both of his starts against the Padres this season, not allowing a run in 16 innings. He threw a four-hitter against San Diego on April 15 in a 2-0 win.
“I feel like I make better pitches in the third, fourth and fifth innings,” said Park, who has won four of his last five decisions. “I have better focus as the game goes along.”
Park is 5-3 with a 5.47 ERA in 15 career appearances, including 13 starts, against the Braves. He gave up four runs in five innings against Atlanta on April 14, but did not receive a decision in San Diego’s 5-4 loss.