SAN DIEGO (AP)—Padres manager Bud Black had quite the choice Saturday: send out the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner for the ninth inning or turn to baseball’s all-time saves leader.
Peavy finished off the 4-1 win, throwing a two-hitter and striking out eight in the first complete game in the big leagues this year.
Peavy threw 101 pitches through eighth innings and had to convince Black that he still felt good and had something left.
“It’s tough,” said Peavy, the unanimous winner of last season’s NL Cy Young Award. “We have the best closer of all time down there, man. The guy’s as good as it gets. Division opponent, save situation. It’s tough to get back out there, but I appreciate Buddy showing the confidence in me. That’s absolutely no disrespect for No. 51. I just appreciate the confidence that Buddy showed in me”
Peavy (2-0) improved to 10-1 in 19 career starts against the Padres’ biggest rival. Dodgers ace Brad Penny (1-1) went the other way, dropping to 3-7 against San Diego in 14 career starts.
It was Peavy’s sixth career complete game and his first since Sept. 2, 2006, against Cincinnati. It matches the number of complete games by the Padres last year, the one thrown by Greg Maddux on May 14 against Cincinnati.
“I’ll take it, no doubt about it,” Peavy said. “It was a good win for the boys. No doubt, we had to have it. Got to win this one to have a chance to come out tomorrow and win the series.”
Peavy has now beaten Roy Oswalt and Penny in consecutive starts. Although Peavy threw 116 pitches, he gave the bullpen a rest and he won’t start again until next Friday at Dodger Stadium, following the Padres’ first day off, on Thursday.
“We would have felt good either way,” Black said. “It was good to give the bullpen a day off and I think it was good that Jake felt good about his stuff. You combine all that and our decision after eight that he felt strong.”
Peavy improved to 4-0 against Penny in six matchups. He held L.A. to one run, walked one and hit a batter.
“Pretty impressive,” new Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. Torre was managing the New York Yankees when Peavy took a tough-luck, 1-0 loss to the Bronx Bombers in his big league debut on June 22, 2002, at Qualcomm Stadium.
“He certainly is someone you have to contend with,” Torre added. “He’s been doing this for a long time. He gets ahead in the count. His stuff was outstanding. You can’t help but be impressed with the way he goes about his business.”
Peavy threw about 15 changeups, a pitch he worked on in spring training to go along with his fastball and slider. He struck out Jeff Kent on a changeup in the fourth inning with a runner in scoring position, and threw a changeup to Russell Martin in the ninth before inducing a double-play grounder on a fastball.
“You saw today that confidence I have in it,” Peavy said.
“He said that he was going to throw a changeup during spring training, and it’s like when the pope speaks, everybody thinks it’s such a huge deal,” catcher Josh Bard said. “He threw a couple on opening night, but I thought he did a really good job tonight. It gave him another pitch. Guys like Kent and Martin have seen his slider a lot, and it’s still the best slider in the game, but sometimes they’re cheating for it. We threw a little wrinkle in there. You can’t say enough.”
While Penny allowed four runs on six hits in the first inning, a determined Peavy struck out the side in the first inning and retired the first nine Dodgers batters on 37 pitches.
Los Angeles didn’t get a base runner until Rafael Furcal tripled into the gap in left-center leading off the fourth. Martin hit a pop foul that Bard caught as he slid into the Padres’ dugout, winding up on the second step. Torre came out to talk with home plate umpire Jim Joyce, and all four umps huddled. They eventually waved Furcal home.
The play was originally ruled an error, but later changed to a pop foul to the catcher, with the runner advancing when Bard slid into dead-ball territory. Had Bard stayed on his feet, Furcal could have advanced only at his own risk.
The Padres did all their damage against Penny in the first inning.
After the big right-hander struck out leadoff batter Brian Giles, he allowed five straight singles, including RBI hits by Kevin Kouzmanoff and Khalil Greene. Scott Hairston hit a sacrifice fly and Bard an RBI single.
Penny allowed four runs on 10 hits in six innings, struck out three and walked one.
Greg Maddux received his 2007 Gold Glove Award prior to the game. The Padres’ RHP won the award for fielding excellence for the record 17th time last year, his first season in San Diego. … CF Jim Edmonds was activated from the 15-day DL and made his Padres debut. He strained his right calf on March 6 in an exhibition game. … Penny is 0-4 in five starts at Petco Park.