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Longer starts aiding Padres' leverage relievers

Hosmer extends hit streak to seven games; Pirela rests for first time this season
San Diego Padres

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The letter of the day for the Padres is "L."

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The letter of the day for the Padres is "L."

For length and leverage.

Recently, the Padres' starting pitchers have been getting deeper into games and turning leads over to the club's three leading "leverage" relievers: Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen and Brad Hand.

The combination has led the Padres to go 8-8 over their 16 games in May.

Clayton Richard has gone eight innings in each of his past two starts -- the first Padres starter to do that since the 2014 season. Richard has allowed five runs on 12 hits and a walk in those two starts with 18 strikeouts. Richard's ERA for the two games is 2.81.

Tyson Ross went six innings for a fourth straight start Friday night. Over those 24 innings, Ross allowed nine runs on 18 hits and 12 walks with 24 strikeouts. Ross has a 3.38 ERA in those four games, and the Padres are 3-1.

And Jordan Lyles was perfect for 7 1/3 innings in his second start of the season.

The length has allowed Green to go directly to his core relievers, who have been turning in some strong outings since Yates returned from the disabled list on April 20.

Yates has allowed one run on six hits and five walks with 13 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings over 12 appearances since he returned. That's an ERA of 0.79. He also is credited with two wins against no losses.

Stammen has made 10 appearances since April 20, and he has allowed two runs on 11 hits and four walks with nine strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings for a 1.86 ERA and a 1-0 record.

And Hand has made 11 appearances since April 20, and he is 1-1 with seven saves in eight opportunities. He has allowed four runs on seven hits and seven walks with 23 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for a 2.70 ERA.

Padres manager Andy Green connected longer starts from his rotation to the success of his relievers on Friday afternoon in his pregame media session before the Padres' 3-2 win in Pittsburgh -- where Yates, Stammen and Hand combined to work three scoreless innings after Ross.

"Starters going deeper takes the stress off your leverage bullpen arms," said Green. "Tyson's done a nice job. Clayton's last couple times out have been very good at giving that as well. Jordan obviously did it his last time out. If you've got three guys who you can expect quality starts from consistently, it takes the stress off the bullpen and lets your younger guys kind of find their footing along the way."

By the way, Friday marked the third time this season that Hand recorded a four-out save.

Notebook

• First baseman Eric Hosmer was 2-for-3 on Friday with two doubles, and he had a hand in all three Padres runs with an RBI and two runs scored. Hosmer extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 9-for-26 with three walks, five doubles, a homer, eight RBIs and four runs scored. Hosmer has 16 doubles, putting him on pace for 56 this season. The Padres single-season record is 49 by Tony Gwynn in 1997.

Jose Pirela got Friday off, his first day off of the season. Pirela had started all of this season's first 45 games -- 22 games in left, five in right and 18 at second base. The only Padre to start all 46 games is shortstop Freddy Galvis.

• Galvis was 1-for-4 Friday, and he is 8-for-17 over the past five games with three doubles, a triple, an RBI and four runs scored.

Hunter Renfroe has started two games on his rehab assignment with Triple-A El Paso, going 2-for-9 with a double, a walk, an RBI and three runs scored.

San Diego Padres