SAN DIEGO -- The Padres didn't have a starting pitcher to give the baseball to on Wednesday afternoon at Petco Park. So manager Andy Green handed it to Matt Strahm. And then Jose Castillo. And then Adam Cimber, Kirby Yates and Brad Hand.Together, the five San Diego relievers did the
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres didn't have a starting pitcher to give the baseball to on Wednesday afternoon at Petco Park. So manager Andy Green handed it to Matt Strahm. And then Jose Castillo. And then Adam Cimber, Kirby Yates and Brad Hand.
Together, the five San Diego relievers did the trick, piecing together nine excellent innings in a 3-1 victory over the Braves. It completed a 7-3 homestand for the Padres.
"It's not rocket science," Green said. "You put good pitchers on the mound and ask them to eat up 27 [outs], they've got a really good chance to do it. For me, it's credit to the work they've put in down there and the culture they have down there."
Technically, Strahm was the Padres "starter" on Wednesday, though he admitted prior to the game that he'd treat his outing as though he were pitching in relief. Strahm worked 2 1/3 innings, the longest appearance of the day. He also surrendered Atlanta's only run -- a solo blast from Freddie Freeman in the top of the first.
From there, the relief corps dominated. Castillo worked 1 2/3 scoreless. Cimber pitched the fifth and struck out the side. Yates worked his first two-inning appearance in over a year. And Hand was as dominant as ever in the eighth and ninth.
"When you do a bullpen day, the advantage is with the pitchers, because they're not going to get to see everybody multiple times," Yates said. " … It's probably going to make it pretty hard on them, knowing what we've got at the back end of the bullpen."
It's the second time in 10 days that the Padres have used their bullpen to fill Joey Lucchesi's place in the starting rotation. (Lucchesi is still recovering from a right-hip strain and could return in the next week or two.) The plan worked almost as well in Los Angeles earlier this month, before the Dodgers put together a four-run eighth inning off lefty Tyler Webb.
In six days, Lucchesi's turn will come up again, and it's doubtful he'll be ready. The Padres could once again turn to their relief corps -- though that's dependent on the bullpen's workload over the next four days.
"It's not something you can do often," Yates said. "It is something you can do. The stars have to align, because it puts a lot of pressure on the starting pitcher the day before and the starting pitcher the day after. … It's hard to tell what kind of lingering effects it has."
Thursday's off-day was key. There's almost no chance Hand and Yates would've worked two innings apiece without the benefit of an extra day of rest.
It was Hand who worked under the most stress, allowing a leadoff double in the eighth as the tying run. He proceeded to strike out Dansby Swanson, Freeman and Nick Markakis in order.
"It's all of us picking up each other, handing it over to the next guy," Hand said. "We have all the trust in anybody in that situation. That's a great Braves team we beat."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Second chance: The Padres plated two runs in the second inning when Cory Spangenberg tripled home Hunter Renfroe, then scored on a Manuel Margot single. They could've had more. Green opted to let Strahm hit for himself with men on first and second. Making his first big league plate appearance, Strahm struck out while trying to bunt. Two batters later, Eric Hosmer struck out swinging with the bases loaded on three straight sliders from Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz.
Fresh squeezed: After Hand's high-leverage eighth inning, the Padres tacked on a pivotal insurance run in the bottom of the frame. Jose Pirela led off with a single and went to third on a hit by Spangenberg. That set the stage for Freddy Galvis' safety squeeze up the first-base line. Pirela scored easily, and the Padres had a 3-1 lead.
HE SAID IT
"The guys are enjoying what they're doing right now, and usually when you're enjoying what you're doing, you play well." -- Green, on the 7-3 homestand
It's a rematch for San Diego as Eric Lauer takes on Miami's Caleb Smith for the second time in two weeks. Smith got the upper hand in Round 1 as Lauer stumbled, giving up five earned runs and seven hits over just 2 1/3 innings. Lauer has struggled on the road (he's yet to notch a win on an away start) and the Padres have lost four out of his last five starts. First pitch is slated for 4:10 p.m. PT at Marlins Park.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.