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Richard K's 10, dominates in win vs. Cardinals

Padres southpaw completes eight innings for the second straight start
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' relief corps was toast entering play Sunday afternoon. Clayton Richard did his best to make sure his bullpen had a much-needed day off.

Richard worked eight innings of two-run ball, matching a career high with 10 strikeouts and setting the Padres on course for a 5-3 victory over the Cardinals. Closer Brad Hand allowed a solo homer and loaded the bases in a nervy ninth inning, but he slammed the door with consecutive strikeouts to pick up his 11th save.

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SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' relief corps was toast entering play Sunday afternoon. Clayton Richard did his best to make sure his bullpen had a much-needed day off.

Richard worked eight innings of two-run ball, matching a career high with 10 strikeouts and setting the Padres on course for a 5-3 victory over the Cardinals. Closer Brad Hand allowed a solo homer and loaded the bases in a nervy ninth inning, but he slammed the door with consecutive strikeouts to pick up his 11th save.

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Richard's timing couldn't have been any better. On Friday night, rookie left-hander Eric Lauer failed to make it through the third inning. Then, on Saturday, the 'pen was forced to eat seven frames in the Padres' 13-inning victory.

"You know the situation our club is in," Richard said. "You want to do everything you can to stay in the game as long as you can."

Video: STL@SD: Richard freezes Pham for strikeout

For Richard, it was his second consecutive start of at least eight innings, making him the first Padre to do so since Andrew Cashner in 2014. He accomplished the feat himself during his first stint in San Diego in 2012 -- and he joins Cashner and Mat Latos as the only pitchers with consecutive eight-inning starts in the team's last 10 seasons.

Those two outings have served as an excellent bounceback to a rocky first month for Richard. His ERA jumped to 6.21 after a seven-run effort in San Francisco on May 2.

"He's proven that [our] faith is warranted, the last couple of times out," said Padres manager Andy Green. "... It was a great day for him. We needed it."

Offensively, the Padres capitalized on some serious control issues for Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, who walked a career-high six batters and allowed two runs over 2 1/3 innings.

Video: STL@SD: Spangenberg scorches RBI single to right

Wainwright had missed four weeks with inflammation in his pitching elbow, and that injury flared up on him again in the first inning. The 36-year-old right-hander will be re-evaluated Monday, but he appears destined for another stint on the DL.

"I need to pause and get it right," Wainwright said. "This team deserves more than that, and the fans deserve more than that and the organization does too. If I'm going to be a force down the stretch I need to get healthy first."

The Padres tacked on two runs in the fourth against the Cardinals bullpen, getting RBI knocks from Jose Pirela and Franchy Cordero. In the eighth, pinch-hitter Carlos Asuaje delivered some insurance with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Hand had just enough breathing room for the ninth, though he certainly made things interesting. Harrison Bader homered with his first swing, before Hand loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter.

"I'd prefer the quick route, personally," Green quipped. "But we have a ton of confidence in him, and it's well warranted."

Video: STL@SD: Hand strikes out Wong for the save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Walk the walk: In the bottom of the third, the Padres finally capitalized on Wainwright's lack of control. They loaded the bases on three walks for newly recalled third baseman Cory Spangenberg, who slapped a single into right. Freddy Galvis plated another run with a sacrifice fly, and the Padres led, 2-0. (Galvis also had two hits and a walk, after entering play Sunday with one hit in his past 22 at-bats.)

Video: STL@SD: Galvis scores Pirela on sacrifice fly

Twin killing: The Cardinals plated their two runs in the top of the sixth inning. Bader smacked an RBI triple into the right-center-field gap, then scored when Jose Martinez singled him home. Richard was on the ropes for the first time, and -- as is his trademark -- he used the ground ball to escape. Richard got Cardinals left fielder Marcell Ozuna, who had singled in his first two at-bats, to hit into a 5-4-3 double play.

SOUND SMART
Christian Villanueva went deep in his first at-bat on May 1. That was the last hit by a Padres third baseman until Spangenberg's RBI single in the third inning on Sunday.

HE SAID IT
"He prides himself on being able to go deep into a game. He was lobbying me for the ninth, and I tried to explain to him -- and he's the valedictorian of his high school class -- that I was pinch-hitting for him at the exact time he was lobbying to stay in the game. His competitive nature won out over his intellect for a moment. But he's been big for us in a lot of different ways -- from a leadership standpoint and from an innings standpoint." -- Green, on Richard

UP NEXT
Joey Lucchesi has made two starts against the Rockies this season, and he's yet to allow an earned run. The rookie left-hander is set to face Colorado on Monday night with first pitch slated for 7:10 p.m. PT. Opposite Lucchesi will be Rockies lefty Tyler Anderson.

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

San Diego Padres, Clayton Richard