Padres 6, Pirates 3, 1st game; Padres 7, Pirates 3, 2nd game
Jake Peavy allowed one run in six efficient innings and the Padres again took advantage of Pittsburgh’s deficient defense to beat the Pirates 7-3 Wednesday and sweep a road doubleheader for the first time in nearly 14 years.
In the opener, Phil Nevin drove in three runs and Brian Lawrence won his fourth start in a row, a 6-3 Padres victory that was aided by three Pirates errors and ended Pittsburgh’s four-game winning streak.
The Padres hadn’t swept a road doubleheader since Aug. 7, 1990, when Andy Benes and Eric Show were the winning pitchers in Atlanta. They hadn’t swept any twinbill, home or away, since beating the Mets twice in San Diego on May 14, 1998.
San Diego also moved into a virtual tie for the NL West lead with the Dodgers, who were 9-4 losers to the Phillies.
“We haven’t been playing well, so to sweep this is big for our team,” Brian Giles said of the Padres, who were swept in a three-game weekend series at home by the Cubs. “Any time you win two baseball games on a long night, it’s a lot of fun.”
It wasn’t for the Pirates, who have dropped six straight at PNC Park and are 4-12 there—easily the majors’ worst home mark. It didn’t help when they ended a streak of 57 innings without an error by committing five errors in a span of four innings, including a four-run Padres first inning to start the second game.
Pirates pitching coach Spin Williams was ejected during that inning, apparently because he felt home plate umpire Larry Vanover wasn’t giving Oliver Perez enough of the plate. Second baseman Bobby Hill was thrown out later after striking out for the fourth straight time.
“It was an ugly night,” said Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon, who declined afterward to criticize Vanover’s ball-strike calls. “But it’s not where we’re playing, it’s us. The onus is on us to play better.”
Hill acknowledged getting frustrated after being called out in the eighth, saying, “I don’t like to do anything to show them (the umpires) up, but that last one got the best of me.”
The Padres’ Mark Loretta, who began the night in an 0-for-12 slump, followed a three-hit game in the opener with a homer and a single in the second game. Pinch-hitter Ramon Hernandez added a two-run homer.
The Padres jumped to the 4-0 lead in the first against Perez, then cruised as Peavy (4-2) held Pittsburgh to a run and five hits while striking out nine.
“Pitching with a 4-0 lead, a 5-0 lead, makes it a lot easier,” Peavy said.
Perez (3-2), dealt to Pittsburgh nine months ago in the Giles trade, was coming off a complete-game, 11-2 victory over Colorado, but his own wildness contributed to the big first inning.
“We had some good at-bats to get some walks, and that’s just like getting a hit, especially with the bases loaded,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “Ollie’s a tough competitor, but he had trouble finding the strike zone at times and he threw a lot of pitches.”
The Padres’ only hits in the first were leadoff singles by Khalil Greene and Loretta. Perez walked in two runs after first baseman Daryle Ward couldn’t catch a routine foul popup and right fielder Craig Wilson misplayed Jay Payton’s sacrifice fly for an error that kept the bases loaded.
“There were a lot of things going on,” McClendon said of Perez, who was lifted after throwing 80 pitches in three innings. “Emotions were high for him (against his former team) and we didn’t make some plays we should have made. It was all downhill from there.”
Pittsburgh tried to rally in the eighth with Daryle Ward’s third homer in eight Pirates games, off Jay Witasick, and Chris Stynes’ RBI double. But Akinori Otsuka got Humberto Cota to fly out with runners on second and third to end the inning.
In the first game, Loretta, Terrence Long and Giles each had three of San Diego’s 13 hits. Giles, who averaged 33 homers and 107 RBIs during five seasons with Pittsburgh, received several warm ovations from a crowd of 13,366 in his first game there since being traded to San Diego.
Lawrence (6-2) couldn’t hold a 3-1 lead when Rob Mackowiak hit his third homer in two games, but gained the decision when the Padres took the lead back in the seventh against rookie reliever Mike Johnston (0-1) on Nevin’s RBI grounder.
Giles kept the inning going by taking out rookie second baseman Jose Castillo on a potential double-play grounder.
Trevor Hoffman got his 11th save in 12 opportunities.
Pirates starter Kris Benson didn’t figure in the decision despite giving up nine hits and three runs in six innings. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 6.75ERA in three starts at PNC Park, where he hasn’t won since May 10, 2003.
Peavy’s nine strikeouts were a season high. He struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings May 7 at Florida. … Lawrence has allowed 11 runs and 29 hits in 24 innings during his winning streak. He is 4-1 on the road. … Jeff Cirillo made his Padres debut after missing the first five weeks of the season with abroken right index finger.