“A complete game is just another stat,” Lawrence said. “But this picked up our bullpen right now. It was huge to give guys some rest. Tonight it was at the point where I needed to go out there and finish the game.”
San Diego was coming off a 6-5 loss on Wednesday when Atlanta scored twice in the ninth off closer Trevor Hoffman.
“That was a tough loss,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “The club bounced back well. It’s important to put those tough losses behind you.”
The Padres won for just the third time in eight home games to remain 1 1/2 games behind San Francisco in the NL wild-card race.
Lawrence (12-10), who finished 12-12 in 2002, matched his career high for wins. He struck out four and walked two in just his second win in eight starts. He threw 118 pitches and got 17 groundouts in a game that lasted only 2 hours, 7 minutes.
“To be where we are at this point of the season, trying to fight for a wild card, this is probably the most pressure that’s been put on me all year,” Lawrence said. “I tried to go out there and be a bulldog.”
It was his first complete game since a 5-1 victory on May 24, 2003, at Arizona.
“He was outstanding,” Bochy said. “He had good stuff, good location. We got the lead for him and he was on top of his game.”
Lawrence threw the Padres’ second complete game of the season and the fifth of his career. Ismael Valdez, since traded to Florida, had San Diego’s only other complete game this season, a 4-0 win over Milwaukee on June 5.
NL hits leader Mark Loretta homered and scored three runs in his league-best 54th multihit game.
Hernandez got San Diego going early with his home run off Dontrelle Willis (9-9) in the second inning. Loretta led off the fifth against Willis with a home run that gave the Padres a 5-1 lead.
“I was just trying to hit it hard and it went out,” Hernandez said. “Home runs have been hard to hit at home, so every one helps.”
Willis gave up six runs and nine hits in seven innings. The lefty struck out five, walked two and hit one batter.
“I was just pitching behind all day,” Willis said. “I felt like I had good stuff, but it was one of those days where I threw too many strikes in key situations.”
Loretta had a one-out single in the third. After Nevin singled Loretta to third, Rich Aurilia drove him in with a single for a 4-0 lead.
“We dug ourselves a hole too early,” Florida manager Jack McKeon. “Young guys have to learn when to throw balls and not give them too good of pitches to hit.”
Loretta’s homer extended his career-high total to 15.
Brian Giles drove in the Padres’ final run in the seventh when he tripled to right-center to score Loretta, who walked.
Giles’ streak of reaching base safely in 11 consecutive plate appearances ended in the first inning on a flyout. … Lawrence, who has a career record of 39-42, has never finished with a winning record in three major league seasons. … Lo Duca threw out Padres rookie Freddy Guzman attempting to steal second base in the seventh. Lo Duca has thrown out 25 percent of would-be base stealers (22-of-89).