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Notes: Beck providing comfort
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07/06/2003 10:35 PM ET 
Notes: Beck providing comfort
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SAN DIEGO -- The luxury of having a closer is that it allows the manager to shorten the ballgame.

What Bobby Cox in Atlanta with John Smoltz and Jim Tracy in Los Angeles with Eric Gagne can do is look at the game in eight- and seven-inning increments. With that closer out there in the bullpen to finish the game, the opposition is forced to get it done in the first few innings because once you've reached the ninth, the game is essentially over.

Padres manager Bruce Bochy had that luxury when Trevor Hoffman was coming out of the pen to the chorus of "Hell's Bells." But now he's begun to experience a similar comfort level with the presence of Rod Beck.

    Rod Beck   /   P
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 230
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Stats
Splits
Padres site

"Those guys just have a sixth sense," Bochy said of that select group of pitchers who can close out a ballgame. "They just seem to know what pitch to throw and what pitch the guy at the plate is looking for."

Beck entered Saturday night's game with the Padres up, 5-2. He allowed a pair of base hits, bringing Barry Bonds to the plate with one out and representing the tying run.

"I just knew Barry was going to come to the plate with the game on the line," Bochy said the day after.

Beck worked Bonds away, getting two quick strikes with fastballs. He then worked the count to 2-2 before striking out the game's most feared slugger with a split-finger fastball.

"He's taken it to another level since the last time I've seen him," Beck said of his former teammate. "I don't think anyone has a great plan against him. You put the ball over the plate, he's going to whack it a long way. I was lucky. But to be put in a situation like that and to come out on top is very gratifying."

The right-hander, who had 266 career saves to begin the year, has now converted seven out of seven save opportunities since joining the Padres on June 2. Bochy struggled through the early part of the season to find someone who could, if not replace, then at least fill in for Hoffman in the closer's role.

But now he does, and instead of AC/DC, it's Metallica that blares from the loudspeakers at the Q.

"I've said this before, it's not stuff but attitude in the ninth inning," Bochy said. "Beck is going to come right at you. He has no fear."

The lineup: Miguel Ojeda got his second straight start behind the plate Sunday in place of Gary Bennett. On Saturday, Ojeda went 2-for-4 and hit his second Major League home run.

"It's hard to take him out the way he's been playing," Bochy said.

Brian Buchanan, who started in left field Saturday and responded by going 3-for-4 with a triple, started at first Sunday to give Ryan Klesko a rest. Xavier Nady returned to right after a day off and Gary Matthews Jr. moved to center to give Mark Kotsay a day.

    Ramon Vazquez   /   IF
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 170
Bats/Throws: L/R

More info:
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Stats
Splits
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Padres site

The Friars file: Shortstop Ramon Vazquez should return to the Padres on Monday, barring any last-minute setbacks. Vazquez has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 8 with a lower abdominal strain. Donaldo Mendez, who has made the bulk of starts at short in his absence, is likely headed back to Triple-A Portland. ... Entering Sunday's game, right-hander reliever Luther Hackman was holding first batters to a .129 batting average, seventh lowest in the NL. ... The Padres are in the middle of a 32-game stretch in which they play teams that are a combined 46 games over .500. The Friars are 9-5 through the first 14 games.

Coming up: The Padres will welcome the Dodgers to town for a two-game series, beginning Monday. Left-hander Oliver Perez will go for San Diego against right-hander Andy Ashby for Los Angeles at 7:05 p.m. PT. Right-hander Adam Eaton will start for the Padres on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. PT against left-hander Wilson Alvarez for the Dodgers.

Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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