Padres lefty Clayton Richard is at his best when he keeps the ball down and gets opposing batters to hit the ball on the ground. But that may have gone just a little bit too far on Saturday night in Atlanta.
Richard recorded 18 outs against the Braves: 16 by ground ball, two by strikeout, zero by flyout. When the ball did get in the air it did not end well; two of the fly balls he allowed left the ballpark in a 4-2 loss at SunTrust Park in suburban Atlanta.
The Padres only runs came in the 2nd inning when rookie outfielder Hunter Renfroe and catcher Austin Hedges hit back-to-back home runs off Braves knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Both Renfroe and Hedges had a pair of hits but the rest of the San Diego lineup had just four knocks.
The Padres had chances to score but went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Atlanta evened the game with a pair of runs in the 3rd inning on a series of singles and took the lead for good in the 6th when Brandon Phillips and Adonis Garcia hit back-to-back home runs off Richard.
Interestingly, Jose Torres and Brad Hand came on in relief and neither of them recorded a fly ball out either but Hand did get Garcia to hit a line drive to Renfroe in right field for the last out of the 8th inning.
San Diego’s best chance to even it up came in the top of the 7th inning. Allen Cordoba, who at the age of 21 is exactly half the age of the man he was facing, led off with a single off Dickey. Pinch-hitter Christian Bethancourt also singled to put two runners on with nobody out but Manuel Margot lined out to right field and Wil Myers grounded in to a double play to kill their last real threat.
Game three of the 4-game set is Sunday with a 10:35 a.m. start time for fans on the West Coast. Vista High School alum Trevor Cahill will come off the disabled list to make his second start of the season against another seasoned starter, 43-year-old Bartolo Colon.