Padres 6, Brewers 3
SAN DIEGO (AP)—Justin Germano keeps showing that he belongs in the big leagues.
Backed by home runs by Mike Cameron and Jose Cruz Jr., Germano pitched well in his fourth start in place of injured Clay Hensley, helping the San Diego Padres to a 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.
Germano allowed two solo homers, which raised his ERA from 0.47 to 1.08, but otherwise continued to impress manager Bud Black.
“He’s made a definite statement,” Black said. “It’s great to see. Like all our starters, they’ve just got to keep their focus on their next start. He’s come up and done a great job.”
Germano will make at least one more start in place of Hensley, who’s been on the disabled list with a strained groin, and possibly another one after that. If Germano continues to pitch well, Hensley might have to go to the bullpen when he’s activated.
“I’m just doing whatever I can to stay on this team,” Germano said. “Hopefully it’s starting but if not, it’s in the pen and I’d be happy with that just because I want to stay here and help the team.
“It’s still early,” he said. “It’s only been four starts, so I’m trying not to get too caught up in that.”
Germano has impressed his teammates.
“The kid is good, man,” Cameron said. “He has a pretty good idea. I see him talking to (Greg) Maddux a lot. He throws strikes, he helps himself out, he bunts well, and the guy’s pretty efficient. He gives us a chance to win every game.”
Germano wasn’t completely happy with his outing.
“That’s a tough lineup. They’re not leading the league in home runs for nothing,” Germano said. “I left a couple of pitches up and over the middle of the plate, and they put good swings on them.”
Trevor Hoffman came on with two runners on and one out in the ninth to get his 14th save in 16 chances. Hoffman, baseball’s career saves leader with 496, wasn’t available in a save situation Friday night, saying his right arm felt “cranky” after he pitched in three of the previous four games.
Doug Brocail retired Prince Fielder before walking Johnny Estrada and Geoff Jenkins to bring on Hoffman. A throwing error by third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff loaded the bases, and Hoffman walked pinch-hitter Gabe Gross to bring in a run before retiring Rickie Weeks to end the game.
“I felt good today,” Hoffman said. “I felt good yesterday, but we just kind of erred on the side of caution.”
The two-time defending NL West champion Padres pulled into a tie atop the division with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost 4-2 to the Chicago Cubs. The Padres hadn’t been in first place since sharing the lead with Colorado on April 5.
Rob Bowen, the Padres’ backup catcher who started in place of Josh Bard, tied his career high with three hits, including an RBI double. Adrian Gonzalez also had three hits, including an eighth-inning triple.
Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, who made his big league debut on Friday night, hit his first homer to tie the game at 2 in the third and finished with three hits. Braun’s homer, to left field on a 1-1 pitch, came an inning after Jenkins muscled a full-count shot over the fence in straightaway center, his 10th. Braun also got his first stolen base.
“It was a little bit easier for me,” Braun said. “I got back into my normal routine. Yesterday, I think, was a little bit overwhelming.”
The Brewers have lost 11 of 15 games.
“We’re not doing a real good job of manufacturing runs right now,” manager Ned Yost said.
After the Brewers tied it on the homers by Jenkins and Braun, Cruz gave the Padres a 3-2 lead when he connected to right leading off the third. It was Cruz’s fifth.
Terrmel Sledge had a hand in San Diego’s final three runs. He hit a leadoff double and scored on Bowen’s one-out double in the sixth, which chased Vargas. Sledge singled with one out in the eighth to score Gonzalez, whose triple got hung up under a chair in the Brewers’ bullpen down the right-field line. Sledge eventually scored on pinch-hitter Russell Branyan’s single.
Germano gave up two runs and five hits in six innings, struck out four and walked none. Vargas allowed four runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings, struck out five and walked none.
Padres RF Brian Giles was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bone bruise in his right knee. The move was retroactive to last Sunday. He was replaced on the roster by INF-OF Paul McAnulty, who was recalled from Triple-A Portland. … Jenkins made two nice plays, diving to catch Kevin Kouzmanoff’s sinking liner to end the fifth and sliding to catch Geoff Blum’s fly ball in the sixth.