Padres 5, Braves 3
SAN DIEGO (AP)—The San Diego Padres certainly aren’t lacking in late-inning bravado.
After rookie pitcher Tim Stauffer kept them in the game, the Padres rallied again, scoring three runs in the eighth inning to beat the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Monday night in a matchup of two of baseball’s hottest teams.
“We know we have the confidence in coming back,” said Mark Sweeney, whose pinch-hit sacrifice fly with one out in the eighth brought in the go-ahead run. “We’d like to have a couple of games where we make it easier on ourselves. But these are good teams we’re playing. That’s a huge thing.”
The Padres, who’ve won five straight, rallied for the second straight game. On Sunday, they scored 10 runs in the seventh inning en route to a 12-4 victory over the Florida Marlins.
Trevor Hoffman needed just eight pitches to get through a perfect ninth for his 405th career save, and his 12th in 14 chances this year. The Padres retired the final 13 Braves batters.
The Padres, who’ve won 14 of 17, pulled into a tie atop the NL West with idle Arizona.
San Diego trailed 3-2 going into the eighth and rallied with four straight singles against reliever Chris Reitsma (1-2).
Brian Giles and Phil Nevin had base hits, and Nevin was replaced by pinch-runner Damian Jackson. Ramon Hernandez singled to left to score Giles with the tying run, and Sean Burroughs loaded the bases when his bunt went about 20 feet down the third-base line before stopping among three Braves.
“It was kind of in a dead man’s area,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “It was a beauty.”
“When you’re playing well and you’re on a roll like we are, you expect that,” Giles said. “Obviously, we’re getting some big hits and having some key at-bats in big situations. That just wasn’t happening earlier in the season.”
The Braves lost for just the fifth time in 15 games. Adam LaRoche went 3-for-4 and scored twice.
Scott Linebrink (1-1) pitched a perfect eighth for the win.
Braves right-hander John Thomson was forced out of the game after straining a tendon in the middle finger of his throwing hand with one out in the fifth. He came off the mound after throwing a pitch to Mark Loretta, was examined by the trainer and was replaced by Adam Bernero.
Thomson will probably miss his next start and is expected to fly back to Atlanta in the next day or two to see a specialist.
“It’s a freak accident,” Thomson said. “It just popped when I threw that fastball. Other than a shoulder injury I had in ’99, I have never felt that much pain.”
Said LaRoche: “It was so loud, I heard the pop over at first base.”
LaRoche had two doubles among his three hits off Stauffer. After Chipper Jones walked to start a two-out rally in the first, LaRoche singled to right. Andruw Jones walked to load the bases, and Johnny Estrada hit a two-run double down the left-field line.
The Padres loaded the bases with one out in the second, on two singles and a walk, but only scored one run. Stauffer struck out before Roberts drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-1, and Loretta hit into an inning-ending force play.
LaRoche doubled to left with one out in the third and scored on Andruw Jones’ single to left, making it 3-1.
The Padres pulled to 3-2 in the sixth when Giles—the older brother of Braves second baseman Marcus Giles—hit a leadoff triple to the gap in right-center and scored on Nevin’s single to left.
Stauffer, who won his major league debut last Wednesday at Cincinnati, allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked two.
“He had a rough first inning but settled down and kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance to come back,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.
Thomson allowed one run and three hits in 4 1-3 innings, struck out three and walked three.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Julio Franco’s stolen base in the ninth inning Saturday night at Los Angeles made him the oldest player to swipe a bag. Franco, who turns 47 on Aug. 23, ranks as the second-oldest player to hit a home run, after Jack Quinn, a pitcher for the A’s who was 46 years, 357 days when he homered in 1930. … Padres INF Geoff Blum, on the disabled list with a chest injury, started a rehab assignment with Class A Lake Elsinore on Monday. … San Diego is 14-4 at home.