SAN DIEGO (AP)—Without Charles Nagy’s gutty performance, Gary Bennett wouldn’t have gotten the chance to hit a game-winning, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning for the sad-sack San Diego Padres.
Nagy came on in the second and pitched five innings of scoreless relief to give the Padres’ beleaguered staff a desperately needed break, and San Diego rallied to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-6 on Wednesday night.
Bennett won it when his first homer of the season, on a 1-1 pitch from Luis Vizcaino (1-3), barely cleared the left-field fence with one out in the ninth. It was the catcher’s first homer in 163 at-bats dating to July 21 while with Colorado, also against Milwaukee.
It was just the fifth victory in 30 games for the Padres (15-38), who have the NL’s worst record. San Diego had lost four straight games over the previous nine days to the Brewers (19-33), who have the NL’s second-worst record.
“That’s why we won tonight. The bullpen,” Bennett said. “That game was already going south when the bullpen came in and stopped the damage where it was and gave us a chance. They did a phenomenal job.”
With the Padres trailing 5-0, Nagy came on after starter Carlton Loewer failed to get an out in the second, then faced just one batter over the minimum through the sixth.
The Padres appeared headed toward another miserable night when Loewer allowed five runs in the first, highlighted by Eddie Perez’s two-out grand slam.
Manager Bruce Bochy saw enough after Loewer allowed consecutive singles by Eric Young and Scott Podsednik to open the second. Nagy came on and got Richie Sexson to ground into a double play, walked Geoff Jenkins, then got out of the jam when third baseman Lou Merloni made a nice over-the-shoulder catch of John Vander Wal’s foul ball.
Nagy retired the side in order three times in the next four innings, allowing only a single to Brady Clark in the fifth.
“Charlie did an unbelievable job,” Bennett said. “Runners on first and second, nobody out, and he pitched pretty much lights out the rest of the time he was in.”
Said Nagy: “I was just trying to get us in and out of the dugout as fast as we could and let the hitters do their jobs.”
On Sunday at Arizona, Nagy squandered a 4-3 lead by giving up four runs on six hits and a walk in two innings as the Padres lost 9-5.
“Tonight I got lucky and they hit the ball at people,” Nagy said.
San Diego’s Brian Buchanan tied his career-highs with four hits and four RBIs, and started the winning rally by beating out a chopper in front of the plate for an infield single leading off the ninth.
The Padres fell behind 5-0 in the first inning, scored six straight runs and still needed the ninth-inning rally to win.
“They are not laying down out there,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “They are battling their tails off.”
Buchanan started in place of first baseman Ryan Klesko, given the night off to rest a sore ankle. Buchanan hit a three-run homer in the third, his second, and an RBI double in the fifth to tie the game at 5.
Buchanan singled off Jayson Durocher with one out in the seventh and scored on Bennett’s double to the gap in left-center for a 6-5 lead.
Keith Ginter, who had the game-winning hit in Milwaukee’s 4-2 victory Tuesday night, tied the game with a two-out RBI single off Luther Hackman in the eighth. It was the third straight single off Hackman.
Brewers left fielder Geoff Jenkins made a leaping catch at the fence to rob San Diego’s Rondell White of a three-run homer to end the eighth.
Mike Matthews (2-3) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.
Despite the five-run lead, Glendon Rusch blew a chance to end his seven-game losing streak. With the no-decision, he is winless in 10 straight starts.
“Anytime you surrender a 5-0 lead, there’s no excuse,” Rusch said.
Loewer allowed five runs and eight hits in his shortest career outing.
Vander Wal strained his right knee going back to make the catch on Mark Loretta’s fly ball in the third. He finished the inning, then was replaced in the fourth by Brady Clark. … In five games against San Diego this season, the Brewers have driven in 22 runs with two outs. … Durocher was activated fromthe 15-day disabled list before the game.