video thumbnail

SD@PHI: Alonso skies a solo homer to right

PHILADELPHIA -- By no means is Clayton Richard tormented by the memories of the pitcher he was just two seasons ago when he won 14 games, was a ground-ball machine and logged a career-high 201 2/3 innings for a team that won 90 games.

Even after missing the second half of 2011 with shoulder surgery, Richard isn't so far removed from his career-best season that he can't remember what it took for him to have that kind of success.

Namely, burying the ball in the strike zone.

That feat, at times this season, has been difficult for him to do, as was the case Friday when he yielded two long home runs as the Phillies pulled away late for a 7-3 victory over the Padres before a sold-out crowd of 44,056 at Citizens Bank Park.

Richard (1-5) allowed a two-run home run to John Mayberry Jr. in the second inning with two outs and then, two innings later, allowed a two-run home run to Carlos Ruiz, a 406-foot blast to center field. The two home runs had more in common than just their results.

They were both fastballs up in the strike zone, something that has occasionally cost Richard this season -- he's allowed a team-high seven home runs in 44 innings. Two seasons ago, he allowed 16 home runs over those same 201 2/3 innings.

"The two home runs were up over the plate," Richard said. "They were both hit well. Those were pitches that will get hit hard nine out of 10 times."

Richard wouldn't say that missing the second half of last season has waylaid his progress in returning to the type of pitcher he was two seasons ago. But Richard did say that, at times, he feels that he's making progress toward getting back to being the pitcher he knows he can be.

"At times," he said. "But it has not consistently been there. ... But I do think that we're getting close."

All told, Richard allowed five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings with two walks and one strikeout. He got nine ground-balls out, a sign that he was able to command the ball down in the strike zone at times -- just not enough, though.

"They made him pay for the fastball up," said Padres manager Bud Black of the home runs that Richard allowed.

Even after the home runs, the Padres (11-22) still had their chances on Friday.

Philadelphia pitcher Vance Worley, who tossed seven scoreless innings against the Padres on April 19, wasn't quite a sharp as he was that night at Petco Park, though he finished with nine strikeouts in six innings, allowing six hits and improving to 3-2.

San Diego first baseman Yonder Alonso extended his career-high hitting streak to eight games with an RBI single off Worley in the fourth inning. Jesus Guzman followed with an RBI single to left field to tie the game at 2, though the Padres' big inning essentially ended right there.

With the bases loaded and one out in the inning, Worley struck out Orlando Hudson on a high fastball. The next batter, Andy Parrino, lined a ball down the right field line that first baseman Ty Wigginton -- who had an error earlier in the inning -- smothered the ball for the final out.

"Parrino hit that ball on the nose," Black said. "If that gets over or under his [Wigginton's] glove, it's a 4-2 or a 5-2 game."

As for Alonso, he got a little more mileage out of his next hit, a home run to right field that glanced off the big beer sign that hangs from the second deck at Citizens Bank Park.

It was the first home run of the season for Alonso and the first for the Padres since Mark Kotsay went deep against the Brewers on May 1. The Padres now have 13 home runs, the fewest among 30 Major League teams.

"He put a great swing on the homer, fastball in and he turned on it," Black said. "He's got pull power. It's good to see Yonder swinging it like he is. At the plate, his game is really starting to show."

Not a bad showing for someone who was feeling the effects of a stomach illness that's working its way through the clubhouse, having already felled Cameron Maybin and Jason Bartlett, who were scratched from the original lineup on Friday.

"I wasn't feeling good at all," Alonso said. "I felt terrible. I tried to do as little as possible before the game. It was a day you want to get over with."

Ruiz reached base four times with three hits and a walk for the Phillies (15-18). This was his team-best fourth three-hit game of the season.

The Padres, who struck out 14 times as a team, had seven hits, including two from Alonso and Guzman. Will Venable reached base twice with a single and a walk and has now hit safely in 21 of his 23 starts in 2012.

MLB.com Comments