On Friday afternoon Padres designated hitter Luke Voit spent a long time in the batting cage. Stuck in an 0-for-18 slump, he took swing after swing against a high-velocity pitching machine trying to find the timing that helped him hit 22 home runs in a 60-game season just two years ago.
He had a single in Friday night's win over the Diamondbacks. On Saturday, the hard work really paid off.
In the 6th inning Voit smoked a 3-run home run into the left field seats that turned out to be the game-winner in a 4-3 victory over Arizona. It was just what the Padres have been searching for most of the year: a big hit at the right time.
Sean Manaea turned in another quality start, going 6.0 innings and allowing three runs. When he left after that inning he was in line for the loss. Without having to throw another pitch he had himself a win.
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Freshly minted All-Star Jake Cronenworth led off the 6th with a double off Tyler Gilbert, the soft-throwing lefty who no-hit San Diego in his first career big league start last August. Manny Machado walked and D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo made a pitching change. He brought in Noe Ramirez, who punched out Jorge Alfaro but did not have the same success against Voit, who finally squared one up and sent it deep into the East Village night.
The bullpen got the job done but didn't make it easy. In the 7th inning Arizona loaded the bases before Luis Garcia got David Peralta to hit a liner right at 2nd baseman Matt Batten for out number 3. In the 8th inning Tim Hill put a pair of runners on with one out. Geraldo Perdomo hit a chopper up the middle and shortstop Ha-Seong Kim made a fantastic play.
Kim grabbed the ball in front of 2nd base, spun as he stepped on the bag, and threw a strike to Cronenworth at 1st to complete the inning-ending double play.
Taylor Rogers, who's regained his early season form, worked a perfect 9th inning for the save and the series win. The Padres can sweep the series and hit the All-Star break on a satisfying 3-game winning streak with a win on Sunday afternoon when Mike Clevinger gets the start against Merrill Kelly.
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