Padres' bats quiet against Pirates
Wells has strong five-inning outing in losing effort
PITTSBURGH -- It wasn't all that long ago when David Wells, for no apparent reason, cursed at teammates and fellow starting pitcher Jake Peavy in the dugout at PETCO Park.
Peavy responded with a stunned look, likely wondering if he'd done something wrong. But Wells was joking, something about the abundance of run support Peavy often gets.
Wells relayed this joke to reporters after the Padres fell, 4-1, to the Pirates at PNC Park Tuesday before a crowd of 15,794, and did so with a smile on his face, even though the lack of run support he's received this season is clearly no laughing matter.
San Diego (29-22) has scored just 23 runs in 2007 when the 44-year-old left-hander has been on the mound. That's merely 2.3 runs per start, though that dips significantly when you discount the six runs the Padres got while he was pitching April 24 against Arizona.
Peavy -- who is 7-1 this season -- has been blessed with nearly five runs (4.91) per start, not that Wells is about to go pointing fingers at the Padres offense for not doing the same for him.
If Wells did point fingers, as he likes to say, they would be pointed directly back at him.
"It's just one of those nights where I pitched just good enough to lose," Wells said. "I've been blessed in my career with serious run support. I know these guys are busting their [butts]. You want to blame someone, blame me."
Wells allowed two runs over five innings on Tuesday and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning even after he had thrown just 67 pitches, because the Padres had a runner at second base and were desperate to get that run home in a 2-0 game.
That's where the offense was Tuesday, as another left-hander -- Pittsburgh starting pitcher Tom Gorzelanny -- tied the Padres in knots after he settled down following a first inning that saw him load the bases only to wiggle free of that mess, which dropped San Diego's average this season with the bags full to .125 (5-for-40).
That missed opportunity against Gorzelanny contributed to a 1-for-9 effort with runners in scoring position for the Padres.
"That's going to be a thing that we have to improve upon, hitting with runners in scoring position," Padres manager Bud Black said. " ... I do think that guys will get to their track record and when that happens, I think you will see more productivity out of the offense. We're battling, we're getting guys on base. We can't seem to sustain some innings."
That predicament was made that much tougher Tuesday, and not just because Gorzelanny allowed one run on seven hits over seven innings. The Padres were forced to play catch-up without leadoff hitter Marcus Giles for a majority of the game.
Giles was ejected in the bottom of the second inning by first base umpire Joe West while still arguing with plate umpire C.B. Bucknor after Bucknor called Giles out on strikes in each of his first two at-bats.
Giles only had an issue with his second at-bat with two outs in the second inning when he took a ball that seemed to be low on replays for a called third strike. When Giles returned to the field to play defense, he continued to argue with Bucknor from afar.
Apparently West, who was at least 50 feet away from Giles, did not care for what he was hearing and quickly ejected Giles, who didn't think he warranted such an ejection.
"I was a little surprised," Giles said. "It was just a difference. I thought it was a bad call. That's the bottom line. It could have been wrong, it could have been right. I just thought it was a bad call."
Giles' only remorse was the timing of his ejection, as the Padres had to go the final seven innings without their fiery leadoff hitter who is hitting .284 and is the igniter for the rest of the offense.
"The bad thing about that on my part is it's the top of the second in a 1-0 game," he said. "It's not the best time to get ejected from a game. That's the main thing that hurts."
Not that having Giles around would likely have helped much the way that Gorzelanny threw. This was Black's first time seeing the left-hander and he came away impressed, noting that there's a good reason his ERA (2.39) is "two and a half."
"I think he has three quality pitches -- a live fastball, he can get up there, I saw 93, 94 a number of times," Black said. "I think the breaking ball is sharp and he has a nice changeup. He's got good stuff. He's got a lot of things going for him."
That certainly wasn't the case in the first inning when Gorzelanny loaded the bases after allowing a single to Jose Cruz Jr. and walks to Mike Cameron and Khalil Greene. But Gorzelanny recovered to get Kevin Kouzmanoff to fly out to right field to end the inning.
"No matter what, I don't think we were going to score more than one [run]," said Wells, who was impressed with Gorzelanny's stuff. "You've got to throw up zeroes. At least I kept the team in games."
This was the third consecutive start that Wells has allowed two or fewer runs. In doing so, Wells has lowered his ERA from 6.32 on May 10 to 4.74.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.