But beating out a bunt? That caught everyone off guard.
“To be honest, I’ve never seen him try that,” San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said. “He shocked us, too. He got down the line pretty good.”
Wells allowed just five hits in seven-plus innings and the Padres defeated the Braves 2-0 Wednesday night.
The portly left-hander has made three career starts against the Braves and won them all. His ERA in those games is a minuscule 0.82—just two earned runs in 22 innings.
“I just went out there and played catch,” Wells said. “All my pitches were breaking. It was good conditions, a little humid. That made my ball break a little more.”
Now, back to that bunt.
In the seventh, Wells (2-2) decided to drop one down when he spotted third baseman Mark DeRosa playing far behind the bag. The pitcher lumbered to first without even drawing a throw, getting credit for his eighth career hit.
“I don’t look very good at the plate anyway,” Wells said. “I might as well try to create something.”
The Braves were more impressed with his pitching. Wells never went to a three-ball count, throwing 62 of his 85 pitches for strikes.
“Nothing was over the middle of the plate—ever,” said Mark DeRosa, who twice struck out with runners in scoring position.
“He never shows you the same pitch twice,” Marcus Giles added. “He moves the ball in and out, changes speeds. It’s my first time ever to face him. He’s tough.”
Jaret Wright (2-2) was the hard-luck loser, though the Braves starter showed his former team—the Padres waived him last season—that he’s turned his career around in Atlanta.
Wright pitched six solid innings, but gave up one run too many.
The Padres broke up the scoreless duel in the fifth on Brian Giles’ run-scoring single. Sean Burroughs got things going with a one-out double down the left-field line, moved to third on Mark Loretta’s single and scored when Giles dumped a soft liner over shortstop Jesse Garcia’s head.
Loretta added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Wells got 12 straight outs after DeRosa singled in the first. When the Braves finally threatened, the left-hander was up to the challenge.
Atlanta put two runners on in the fifth, but Garcia grounded out to end the inning. The Braves had their best chance an inning later when pinch-hitter Rafael Furcal led off with a double and was sacrificed to third.
But DeRosa struck out swinging at a high fastball, and Andruw Jones went down the same way. In between, Marcus Giles was plunked on the left elbow after Wells knocked off his cap during his windup.
Even though the cap dropped in front of Wells’ face—completely obscuring his view of the plate—he wisely went through with the errant pitch. If he had pulled up, a game-tying balk would have been called.
“I can’t believe the hat stuck,” Wells said. “I had no idea where the ball was going at all. You have to throw it. You don’t want to balk and have it cost the game like that.”
Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his eighth save.
Wells also got some defensive help. Loretta made a diving stop at second to deny Mike Hessman a possible double to the gap in the seventh. … Burroughs was the victim of an unusual double play in the seventh. With Wells at first after the bunt single, Burroughs appeared to chop the ball off the top of his right foot. But plate umpire James Hoye didn’t see it, and the Braves turned a double play with Burroughs hobbling around near the batter’s box. … Marcus Giles left after the sixth. X-rays were negative, but he won’t play Thursday’s series finale because of a bruised elbow. … Furcal didn’t start for the fourth game in a row because of a jammed finger, which affects his throwing. When Giles went out, Furcal stayed in the game at second base ratherthan his normal shortstop position.