It would appear we’ve figured out the secret to prolonged winning streaks for the Padres:
Lose the first game of a 4-game series, and then win the next three.
They did that against the Giants in April for what was their first 3-game win streak of the 2018 season. They did it again this weekend in Pittsburgh for their second 3-game winning streak of the 2018 season.
The Padres beat the Pirates 8-5 at PNC Park on Sunday afternoon, thanks to a very rare 9th inning comeback.
Rancho Bernardo High School alum Trevor Williams was perfect through three innings but in the 4th Eric Hosmer singled then scored on a 2-run home run by Christian Villanueva, his 12th of the season, that put San Diego on top 2-1. After his 0-37 slump Villanueva has hit a home run in three of the last four games.
In the 5th inning they got two more on a couple of balls that never left the infield. Manuel Margot hit a ground ball to 2nd base to bring in Freddy Galvis and then, with catcher A.J. Ellis at 3rd base and pitcher Jordan Lyles at the plate, Padres Manager Andy Green called for the suicide squeeze and it worked to perfection. Lyles laid down a bunt, Ellis scored, and Lyles even ended up beating the throw to 1st base.
“I don’t think there are a lot of people anticipating the speed of A.J. Ellis over at 3rd base,” said Green with tongue firmly planted in cheek. “I think most people are not going to be inclined to do that right there but I thought it was our best chance to get a run home and it worked for us.”
The call put the Padres up 4-1 but in the 6th inning the Pirates erased it. Austin Meadows hit his first career home run, a 2-run shot, to cut the lead to 4-3. On the very next pitch Jordy Mercer tied it with a solo shot to tie it 4-4 and chase Lyles from the game.
The Pirates took the lead in the 8th inning off reliever Kirby Yates, who came into the game with a 0.60 ERA. Josh Harrison hit a sacrifice fly to score Sean Rodriguez and with fireballing closer Felipe Vasquez coming in that looked like it would be the ballgame.
Keep in mind the Padres were 0-24 when trailing after eight innings this year. But Jose Pirela and Villanueva hit back to back singles and Green sent Franchy Cordero in to pinch-run for Villanueva. The speed of Cordero turned into a major asset.
Cory Spangenberg hit a soft grounder to short and Mercer had to rush to try and beat Franchy. His throw was off-line and pulled Harrison off the bag, allowing Pirela to score the tying run and Cordero to advance to 3rd base. With Galvis coming up Green decided to bunt again.
This time he called the safety squeeze and Galvis put down a beauty. Franchy came home and Galvis beat the Pittsburgh defense to the bag at 1st base. Ellis added a 2-run single to put it out of reach.
The Padres can get their first 4-game winning streak of the year on Monday night when they open a 3-game series against the Nationals in Washington. Robbie Erlin (in the rotation for the injured Joey Lucchesi) gets the start against Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez.