ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Even before Jake Peavy threw his first pitch, San Diego was well on its way to snapping a season-worst four-game losing streak.
Peavy allowed two hits in seven innings and the first-place Padres homered twice during a five-run first Wednesday night to stay atop the NL West with a 9-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
“It wasn’t no secret—we needed this one,” Peavy said. “Can’t afford to drop five in a row.”
“My job is easy when you have to give up nine to lose,” Peavy said. “We just wanted to be aggressive early and slam the door and not let them have any life. They come back and score a few runs, they feel they can chip away at the lead, but we kept them off the board.”
Peavy (8-1) struck out eight and walked three while limiting the Devil Rays to a pair of fifth-inning singles by Carlos Pena and Dioner Navarro and lowering his NL-leading ERA to 1.82. The right-hander also extended his major league-leading streak of consecutive innings without allowing a home run to 69, spanning 10 starts.
“With Peavy on the mound, you know you’re going to get a lot of strikeouts. He’s just a fun guy to be behind,” Gonzalez said. “I mean, it’s almost that you can put a lawn chair up out there and enjoy the show.”
Gonzalez and Kouzmanoff homered during San Diego’s five-run first against Edwin Jackson (0-8), who allowed seven of the eight batters he faced to reach base. Khalil Greene added a three-run double in the third off Jason Hammel, and Sledge hit a solo homer off Brian Stokes to make it 9-0 in the eighth.
Peavy, whose 0.87 road ERA is the best in the majors, retired 10 in a row before walking Brendan Harris. The Devil Rays didn’t get the ball out of the infield until Greg Norton flied to right to end the fourth. Pena began the fifth by lining a 2-0 pitch over Paul McAnulty’s head and off the right field wall for Tampa Bay’s first hit.
The right-hander also yielded a two-out single to Navarro in the fifth. The only other time a Devil Rays runner got as far as second base on Peavy was the sixth when Akinori Iwamura and Greg Norton drew walks.
“In every game a pitcher faces at least a couple of challenges, and that was Jake’s challenge in the sixth,” San Diego manager Bud Black said. “He got through it, but I think it took a little bit out of him.”
Jackson, who may have finally pitched his way out of Tampa Bay’s rotation, lasted just 42 pitches and tied the Devil Rays record for consecutive losses to begin a season. Tanyon Sturtze also lost his first eight decisions in 2002.
“For the first time this year, I feel like that I’ve really been hit out of the game. They hit the ball hard every time,” said Jackson, who allowed five runs and five hits in a third of an inning.
Sledge and Marcus Giles singled ahead of Gonzalez’s 13th homer of the season. Jackson struck out John Bard before giving up a single to Mike Cameron, Kouzmanoff’s fifth homer, and walks to Russell Branyan and Khalil Greene to end the shortest start of his career.
Manager Joe Maddon said he hasn’t decided whether Jackson will remain in the rotation. And, the young pitcher insisted he’s not concerned about job security.
“What’s going to happen is going to happen. Worrying about it, worrying about things you can’t control and really don’t have the final say so, makes no sense,” Jackson said. “If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. All you can do is deal with it like a professional and keep it going.”
The Devil Rays placed 2B B.J. Upton (left quad strain) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 9. OF Jonny Gomes was recalled from Triple-A Durham. … Gonzalez homered for the first time since May 27, a stretch of 53 at-bats. Kouzmanoff hadn’t hit one since May 25, a span of 46 at-bats. … The Devil Rays gave CF Elijah Dukes a day off for personal reasons. RF Delmon Young started in center field. … Peavy joined Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels as the only NL pitchers with 100 strikeouts. Hamels has 104 and Peavy 103.