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Hosmer stays hot, creates winning run vs. Bucs

May 18, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- Eric Hosmer hits plenty of doubles. Through 42 games with the Padres, he has 16 of them, putting him on pace to cruise past Tony Gwynn's franchise record.With that in mind, Hosmer's sixth-inning cue shot in Friday's 3-2 victory over the Pirates at PNC Park was fairly unremarkable.

PITTSBURGH -- Eric Hosmer hits plenty of doubles. Through 42 games with the Padres, he has 16 of them, putting him on pace to cruise past Tony Gwynn's franchise record.
With that in mind, Hosmer's sixth-inning cue shot in Friday's 3-2 victory over the Pirates at PNC Park was fairly unremarkable. It was also precisely why the Padres brought him on board during the offseason.
Hosmer hit a check-swing bouncer down the left-field line, then turned on the jets around first. With two outs and nobody on, why not take a shot at second? He slid in safely. One batter later, Hosmer got a perfect read on Franchy Cordero's opposite-field single into left, coming around to score just ahead of the throw. The Padres had the lead, and they wouldn't relinquish it.

"As every day passes, he's obviously the leader of this team," Padres manager Andy Green said. "... The way he plays, that's a down-and-dirty style of play today, stretching singles into doubles and scoring on singles [hit directly] to outfielders. Everybody sees that, respects that and responds to that."
Do they ever.
"We all watch TV," catcher Raffy Lopez said with a grin. "I watched a little baseball when I wasn't in the bigs. He's been doing that for seven or eight years now."
"It's great to watch," said right-hander Tyson Ross, who worked six innings of two-run ball on Friday night. "That's what it takes to win ballgames."
Gwynn's club record is 49, set in 1997. With two doubles on Friday night, Hosmer moved into the National League lead. His first two-bagger plated the Padres' first run, and he'd score the next two himself, putting them on top, 3-2.

A gutty effort from the bullpen made certain the lead would hold up. Kirby Yates punched out Sean Rodriguez with runners on the corners in the seventh. Brad Hand stranded runners in scoring position in the eighth and the ninth, ending both frames with weak ground balls.
• Hand throws 18 sliders in 20 pitches to secure save

As for Ross, he struggled with his control from the start. The veteran right-hander walked the first two hitters he faced, one of whom came around to score. He walked another in the third, and that run scored as well. The Padres had fallen into a 2-0 hole.
From there, Ross didn't blink. He grinded his way through six innings, allowing five hits and a season-high four walks.
"It wasn't his best night," Green said. "But it was good enough."
Hosmer made certain of that.

Trouble at the top:Travis Jankowski and Hosmer have combined to form quite the duo at the top of the order. They put the Padres on the board in the fourth. Jankowski led off with a single, swiped second, then came around to score on Hosmer's double. (He has been on base for six of Hosmer's last eight RBI hits.) Two batters later, Lopez's RBI groundout plated Hosmer, tying the game.

Franch on the fly: Cordero's defense in left field has come under some scrutiny over the past couple days. He botched a routine fly ball on Thursday night, and he misplayed a ball at the wall in first inning Friday. Cordero's redemption came at just the right time. In the bottom of the sixth, with runners on first and second and one out, Jordy Mercer sent a deep fly ball to left field. Cordero got the perfect break, then tracked it down in front of the wall, making a nice back-handed grab.

The Padres tried to avoid using center fielder Manuel Margot, who was experiencing soreness in his left wrist after making a diving attempt at a line drive on Thursday night. A late double switch forced their hand, and Margot entered in the bottom of the eighth.
Margot was available to run and to play defense, but not to swing. His ailing wrist was the explanation for a curious at-bat in the ninth, in which he watched two strikes go by, then attempted to bunt for a hit. He bounced it straight back to the mound.
Margot will be further evaluated on Saturday. The Padres are optimistic he'll avoid a stint on the disabled list. If he ends up there, his return date would be pushed further into the future because he played in Friday's game.
Corey Dickerson led off the ninth inning with a reviewed double against Hand. It snapped an 0-for-31 stretch for lefty hitters against the Padres southpaw, and it marked their first hit this season.

Freddy Galvis was 8-for-his-last-14 when he came to the plate in the fifth, but he couldn't catch a break against Pirates righty Ivan Nova. Galvis hit a hard chopper back to the mound that Nova snared out of mid-air. He attempted to remove the ball from his glove, only to find it caught in his webbing. Instead, he trotted toward first and tossed the entire glove to first baseman Josh Bell for the out.

"It's just a very intelligent baseball play. There's two outs, and if Corey Dickerson throws you out at second base, that was a great time to take a chance. It turned out to be the difference in the game. [On Cordero's single], his secondary lead was great, his route to score was great. You like seeing a guy who understands the game well enough to know as soon as that ball's hit down the third-base line, he's thinking two right out of the box." -- Green, on Hosmer
Clayton Richard has bounced back from a rough start to the season with consecutive eight-inning outings. He became the first Padres pitcher to do so since Andrew Cashner in 2014. The veteran left-hander starts Saturday against the Pirates with first pitch slated for 4:05 p.m. PT. The Bucs counter with Nick Kingham.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.