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Padres stumble out of gate against Pirates

Stauffer lifted in third in rough night for San Diego pitching

SAN DIEGO -- Unlike his last outing, Tim Stauffer made it out of the first inning on Monday night. But the end result was still the same for the Padres, as they were blown out by the Pirates, 10-3.

With the Padres (26-32) starting a three-game series against the Pirates (27-30), they had been hoping to get about five innings out of Stauffer in his third start of the season. But the converted long reliever lasted just 2 2/3 while giving up two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out four.

Stauffer then gave way to a bullpen that was uncharacteristically bad. In 6 1/3 innings, the Padres 'pen -- which came into the game with the second best ERA (2.27) among relieving units in the Majors -- allowed eight runs on 12 hits and five walks.

"We have one of the best bullpens in baseball," said Padres manager Bud Black. "But you play for six months, there's gonna be nights like this."

Overall, the Pirates pounded out 16 hits, while the Padres mustered just five. With 12 walks issued between the teams, each could have put up more runs if not for several wasted chances. The Pirates left 16 men on base, and the Padres stranded 11.

Jordy Mercer led the Pirates offensively with the second four-hit game of his career, going 4-for-5 with a home run, three singles, one walk, four runs scored and two RBIs.

Charlie Morton (2-7) was effectively wild for the Pirates, hitting three batters and walking two others while tying a career high with nine strikeouts. He gave up two runs on three hits in five innings.

"For all intents and purposes, the curve was his pitch tonight," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle. "He was able to compete and get the outs he needed to give us five solid."

After giving up eight runs and recording just one out in his last start, Stauffer was much sharper early for San Diego, striking out both Josh Harrison and Neil Walker swinging to begin the game.

But in the third inning, he made his first mistake, leaving a 92-mph fastball over the heart of the plate on a 2-2 count to Mercer, who promptly deposited it into the second deck of the left-field stands for a 1-0 Pirates lead.

"Early on, I felt good, just was getting behind a little bit," Stauffer said. "I lost focus there for a minute, and it put us in a bind."

Ike Davis brought in another run in the third with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, and Mercer's RBI single off Alex Torres in the fourth made it 3-0.

The Padres didn't get a hit until the fifth, but they opened the inning with three straight.

Alexi Amarista led off with a sharp single to right and was brought in by an RBI double by Everth Cabrera. Seth Smith then singled to right to make it 3-2. San Diego went on to load the bases with two outs, but Morton struck out pinch-hitter Tommy Medica.

In three games against the White Sox this weekend, Padres relievers had allowed no runs on one hit and two walks with 11 strikeouts in eight innings. But nearly every bullpen member who took the mound for San Diego on Monday labored, with five of six throwing at least 29 pitches. Factoring in Stauffer's 71 pitches, and the Padres threw 249 pitches -- the most thrown by any team in a nine-inning game this season.

"It's rare for this team to have games like this," Black said. "You don't see it very often, so when you do, it's rather alarming."

Nick Vincent was especially ineffective, giving up four hits, three runs and a walk while recording just one out in the seventh inning. After Donn Roach retired the side to go into the seventh-inning stretch with the Pirates up, 7-2, many of the announced 18,876 fans had started for the exits.

"Our fans, our pitching staff, our players aren't used to this type of pitching," Black said. "We didn't throw strikes, we were behind in the count. We threw a lot of pitches, we threw a lot of balls."

Three players on each squad were hit by pitches, but tempers never flared, as most were offspeed pitches that were clearly not intentional. The combined six hit batsman were the most in a Padres game in franchise history.

At four hours and four minutes, the game also broke the record for the longest nine-inning home game in Padres history, overtaking the previous mark of three hours, 51 minutes set against San Francisco on May 6, 1995. The franchise's longest nine-inning game, home or away, is four hours and 10 minutes, set against the Florida Marlins on July 27, 1996.

Will Laws is an associate reporter for
Read More: San Diego Padres, Tim Stauffer, Alex Torres