SAN DIEGO (AP)—David Wells, who learned to play baseball by playing catch with members of the Hells Angels in a rough-edged San Diego neighborhood, met his match in an umpire who’s an Eagle Scout and a detective.
With “Boomer” cooling off in the clubhouse, the Padres broke out of their batting slump and beat the Braves 8-5 behind home runs by Mike Cameron and Khalil Greene, three RBIs by Kevin Kouzmanoff and some nice contributions from new left fielder Milton Bradley.
It wasn’t a good day for the other left-handed starter, Jo-Jo Reyes, who was making his big league debut. Reyes, a 22-year-old from up the freeway in Riverside, didn’t make it out of the fourth either, getting chased two batters after allowing Cameron’s three-run homer.
As he often has been throughout his 20-year career, both on and off the field, Wells became the center of attention.
After Francoeur drove a 1-2 pitch off a balcony on the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse in the left-field corner of Petco Park, Wells approached Hickox to ask him about some of his calls, including when Wells struck out in the third. Wells’ body language indicated he wasn’t happy with some of the calls when Andruw Jones walked ahead of Francoeur’s homer.
Hickox warned Wells, who tried to talk to the ump again, then ran him.
Wells had to be restrained by manager Bud Black, two coaches and catcher Josh Bard. Wells fired a ball against the screen as he walked off the field.
“I think it just escalated awful fast,” Black said.
“I just asked him where those pitches were at and he really didn’t say anything, and then I just said, ‘I know in my at-bat, the call on the first pitch was outside,’ ” Wells said. “I just said I wanted to know if it’s going to be fair today, if it’s going to be the same way both sides.
“That’s basically all I asked and he didn’t really like it, and he told me to get back on the mound and he didn’t want to hear another word.”
Wells said he motioned for Bard to come out, then said to Hickox: “Hey, all I wanted to do was ask you a question.”
With that, he was gone.
In his last start, Wells and umpire Hunter Wendelstedt were chirping at each other.
“I think it would be best if I just went up and talked to him this time in a calm way,” Wells said. “And obviously that didn’t work. I don’t know what to do. Flip a coin, I guess.”
Hickox said he warned Wells twice.
“You can’t talk about previous pitches and you can’t leave your position, too,” the umpire said.
In the offseason, Hickox is a detective with the Daytona Beach Shores Police Department.
“Good thing I moved,” joked Wells, who used to live in Florida before moving back to the San Diego area.
Wells struck out on three pitches in the third, including taking a called first strike on a pitch he thought was outside.
“We won, that’s the important thing. But it’s just tough to compromise your bullpen that early in the game,” Wells said.
Doug Brocail, activated from the disabled list before the game, came on after Wells was tossed and pitched three scoreless innings. He also singled in the fourth, his first hit since he tripled against Montreal on Sept. 16, 1995, while with Houston.
The NL West-leading Padres snapped a four-game losing streak to the Braves, but only after absorbing another big hit by Andruw Jones.
The Braves star hit a two-run triple into the right-center field gap off Heath Bell (3-2) to tie it at 5 with two outs in the seventh. On Friday night, he hit a two-run homer in Atlanta’s 7-4 win.
San Diego rallied with three runs in the seventh. After Tyler Yates (2-1) loaded the bases on a double and two walks with one out, Greene drove in the go-ahead run with a grounder. Second baseman Yunel Escobar was charged with an error for his off-line throw to shortstop Edgar Renteria, which allowed Bradley to slide in safely.
Kouzmanoff hit a two-run single, and finished with three RBIs.
Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth for his 25th save in 27 chances and the 507th of his career.
Reyes, starting in place of injured All-Star John Smoltz, took a 3-1 lead into the fourth. But that’s when he faltered.
“The team gave me the lead, and I made those two walks, and I made a mistake and it hurt me,” said Reyes, who left tickets for 40 family members and friends.
Bradley beat out a single and Greene singled to chase Reyes. Bradley eventually scored on Kouzmanoff’s sacrifice fly for a 5-3 lead.
The 44-year-old Wells allowed three runs and four hits in three innings, struck out one wand walked one. Reyes gave up five runs and five hits in three innings, struck out one and walked three.
Bradley made his first appearance eight days after being obtained in a trade with Oakland. Activated from the disabled list before the game, Bradley beat out an infield single, walked, scored two runs and made a nice play in left field.
Greene’s solo shot with two outs in the second was his 15th, tying his club record for homers by a shortstop in a season. Greene had 15 homers in each of the last three seasons, all of which were interrupted by injuries.
Bradley and center fielder Cameron converged on Chipper Jones’ fly ball in the third inning. The ball ticked off Cameron’s glove and bounced off Bradley’s right shoulder before the newcomer grabbed it with his bare hand, bobbled it twice and held on to end the inning.