SAN DIEGO -- The Padres brought Eric Hosmer to San Diego so he could deliver in big moments. It took 13 innings, but Hosmer delivered in a big way on Saturday night.Hosmer -- 0-for-5 through the first 12 frames -- turned on the first pitch he saw from Cardinals reliever
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres brought Eric Hosmer to San Diego so he could deliver in big moments. It took 13 innings, but Hosmer delivered in a big way on Saturday night.
Hosmer -- 0-for-5 through the first 12 frames -- turned on the first pitch he saw from Cardinals reliever Mike Mayers and sent a line-drive double into the right-field corner. He tossed his helmet in the air, as the Padres walked off with a 2-1 victory, their first in their last eight extra-inning games.
"I was telling myself, 'Be ready for his best fastball,'" Hosmer said. "'Don't miss another good pitch.'"
He got Mayers' best fastball, a 95-mph heater just off the inside corner. And he didn't miss it.
Backup catcher A.J. Ellis opened the frame by working a leadoff walk off John Brebbia (increasing his on-base percentage this season to .417). Ellis was the final position player off the bench, and he isn't exactly known for his wheels. So right-hander Jordan Lyles, who started the series opener, entered as a pinch-runner.
Lyles advanced to second base on a passed ball before scoring the winning run on Hosmer's ninth career walk-off hit and his first with the Padres.
"That's every starting pitcher's dream," Lyles said. "Obviously you're watching and seeing our bench clear out a little bit. … I put two and two together."
The Padres put two men on base in the ninth and 10th innings, too, but both times they came away empty-handed. Hosmer bounced into an inning-ending double play in the 10th to fall to 0-for-5.
"He's done this long enough and well enough that an 0-for-5 doesn't faze him," said Padres manager Andy Green. "That's a big swing. We're about out of arms at that point."
The San Diego offense was bailed out by yet another excellent effort from the bullpen -- after yet another excellent start from Tyson Ross.
The Padres took a flier on Ross in December, hoping the veteran right-hander might add some depth to a shaky group of starting pitchers. A month and a half into the season, it's hard to envision what their rotation would look like without him.
On the whole, San Diego's starting pitching has struggled mightily this season. Ross, meanwhile, has been a bright spot. He worked six innings of one-run ball on Saturday, allowing only three hits while striking out seven. In the process, Ross lowered his ERA to 3.40, and he's now fanned 53 hitters in 47 2/3 innings.
"Tyson really threw the ball well," Hosmer said. "Our bullpen did a phenomenal job. … It just feels good to be on top of this one. It was getting to the point where everybody wanted to go home."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
To bunt or not to bunt: The Padres put two men on base in the bottom of the ninth, when Cory Spangenberg was called upon to pinch-hit for Christian Villanueva. Green asked Spangenberg to bunt. But after the count ran to two strikes, the Padres took the sign off. Spangenberg attempted to get the bunt down anyway. He fouled it back for a strikeout, and the next two Padres hitters would punch out as well, sending the game to extras.
Lopez motors home: Of all people, it was catcher Raffy Lopez who created created a run on the basepaths in the bottom of the second inning. After Lopez's one-out single, Freddy Galvis hit a grounder to second, where Greg Garcia made an excellent diving play and threw to first. Lopez went first-to-third on the grounder, then scored when the ensuing throw from first baseman Jose Martinez sailed up the third-base line.
VILLANUEVA BANGED UP
Villanueva's month-long slump continued on Saturday night, when he went 0-for-3 to run his hitless drought to 36 at-bats. More concerning: He collided hard with the short wall in foul territory while chasing after a popup at third base in the eighth inning.
Villanueva appeared to be favoring his left knee as he laid on the ground momentarily. But he remained in the game after being looked at by a team trainer. An inning later, Villanueva was removed for Spangenberg as a pinch-hitter, but Green confirmed the move was strategic, rather than injury-related.
"His knee's fine," Green said. "He got it checked out, no X-rays necessary or anything. He just hit it pretty solidly against that wall."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Even by its absurdly high standards, Brad Hand's slider was electric on Saturday night -- particularly in the top of the ninth against Harrison Bader. Hand threw three straight sliders to Bader, who chased the first (in the dirt) and the second (on the inside corner). Then the lefty painted a filthy back-door slider on the outside corner to end the inning.
HE SAID IT
"You go back to the start of that inning, that's a really professional at-bat off the bench from A.J. Ellis. That's the kind of at-bat that wins baseball games." --Green, on Ellis' leadoff walk
Veteran left-hander Clayton Richard gets the ball at 1:10 p.m. PT Sunday, and he'll be looking to reverse a trend in which the Padres have lost each of his last four starts. He's never lost in seven career starts against the Cardinals, who counter with right-hander Adam Wainwright. It'll be the first start for Wainwright since he hit the disabled list in mid-April with an elbow injury.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.