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PHI@SD: Wieland strikes out seven over six innings

SAN DIEGO -- Joe Wieland has been in the big leagues for a week, yet he's already discovered that for all the subtle and no-so-subtle differences between the Minor Leagues and Major Leagues, there is still one truism that holds up no matter if you're pitching on Pluto or at Petco Park.

"They always say leadoff walks are going to be runs," Wieland said. "They were right."

Wieland's leadoff walk in the first inning Thursday led to the only run the Phillies would need in its 2-0 victory over Padres in front of a crowd of 17,573 at Petco Park, the 12th consecutive victory that these Phillies have posted in San Diego, their apparent home away from home.

Wieland (0-2), who allowed three home runs at Dodger Stadium last Friday in his first start, was sharper against the Phillies (6-7), especially over his final five innings when he allowed two hits and no runs on his way to seven strikeouts in six innings of work.

Yet it was the first inning that doomed Wieland and the Padres (3-11), an inning when the 22-year-old allowed but one run, though the way the offense sputtered, a one-run deficit never appeared quite so daunting.

The Padres, beginning a stretch in which they'll play 16 of their next 19 games at home, returned home on Thursday to find that many of the elements that ailed them on a 1-5 road trip apparently followed them back to their downtown ballpark.

Philadelphia pitcher Vance Worley (1-1) had a career-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings, as he allowed four hits. It was the eighth time in this vexing 14-game stretch in which the Padres have struck out at least nine times in a game.

"He was good. He was aggressive. He stayed aggressive," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Three times -- in the second, sixth and seventh innings -- the Padres had a runner at third base. Each time, they couldn't chase that run home.

"Padres had some opportunities but couldn't cash in," manager Bud Black said. "Our guys have to come through at a better rate than we are now. When we have opportunities, we have to cash in."

That's what the Phillies did in the first inning as Wieland, five days removed from allowing four runs in the first inning against the Dodgers, walked leadoff hitter Juan Pierre. The next hitter, Placido Polanco, then dumped a single to left field that Will Venable had trouble picking up. That slight misstep allowed the speedy Pierre to scoot to third base as Venable was changed an error.

"My error in the first [inning] put us in a hole right away," Venable said. "I just messed up. It shouldn't happen."

Jimmy Rollins then knocked in Pierre with a sacrifice fly to right. Two more hits and the Phillies had the bases loaded, though Wieland didn't flinch. He ran a fastball inside to John Mayberry Jr., getting him to pop up to second baseman Orlando Hudson. He then got Carlos Ruiz to ground out to end the inning.

"Critical pitches," Black said.

Wieland said that his tempo wasn't where he would have liked it in that first inning, something that his pitching coach, Darren Balsley, reminded him of during a mound visit.

"My comfort zone is working quick," Wieland said. "But sometimes, I get in a habit of working too quick. You have to catch your breath and that allows you more time to think about what you want to do with your next pitch."

Wieland shined thereafter as he retired 17 of the final 19 hitters he faced after allowing a single to Shane Victorino before the big at-bats with Mayberry and Ruiz.

All told, Wieland struck out seven, walked the one batter and allowed five hits in his six innings, which represented a dramatic improvement from his first start.

"He started to keep the ball down," Black said. "I thought his changeup and curve were very effective. With each pitch he threw, he was very composed. He's showing some good signs at a real infant stage."

The Padres had their best chances to score in the second inning when Hermida opened the frame with a triple to center field. But Worley retired the next three hitters.

Then in the sixth inning, Worley allowed a single to Venable, who moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Cameron Maybin. A single by Chase Headley sent Venable to third base. But Worley struck out Hermida with the final out of the inning coming on the same play when Venable was thrown out at the plate attempting to score on a double-steal attempt.

"Chase did what he was supposed to do and that's stay out of the double play," Venable said. "As far as I'm concerned, I had to go. He's in a rundown. There's not much else I can do."

The Phillies added a run in the ninth inning after, you guessed it, a leadoff walk. Comments