Padres rally after Wells ejected
Left-hander tossed in fourth for arguing balls and strikes
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres offense came alive, not once, but twice, against Atlanta to propel San Diego to an 8-5 victory on Saturday afternoon.
It's hard to say to whom the day belonged, as a number of Padres helped with the win. It was a victory filled with rallies, a juggling act in the gap in left-center field and an ejection to starting pitcher David Wells.
Plenty happened in front of 41,419 at PETCO Park, but what fans came away with was an exciting victory that was topped off with a three-run rally in the seventh inning.
Shortstop Khalil Greene broke a 5-5 tie by driving in Adrian Gonzalez for the go-ahead run in the seventh on a fielder's choice. Kevin Kouzmanoff then hit a double to bring in Mike Cameron and Milton Bradley.
Bradley, playing his first game with the Padres, was a big hit in more ways than one.
He scored two runs and went 1-for-3 at the plate, but that almost didn't compare to what he did in the outfield.
With two out in the top of the third, the Braves' Chipper Jones flied out to the gap in left-center. Cameron and Bradley ran for the ball and nearly collided. The ball went off Bradley's glove, then his shoulder, but he was able to briefly cup it in his right hand before juggling it. He finally clutched it and held it in the air to an ecstatic roar from the crowd for the final out.
"I think that play showed great hand-eye coordination, concentration," Padres manager Bud Black said. "It was a great play by the juggler."
Said Bradley of the feat: "I just tried to stay with it and caught it. I was glad, because the last thing I want to do is bump into a guy and drop the ball in the first game."
Milton wasn't the only Padres player who came off the DL and contributed.
Reliever Doug Brocail came to the rescue after Wells was ejected by home-plate umpire Ed Hickox in the fourth inning.
The Braves' Jeff Francoeur hit a two-run home run off Wells in the top of the fourth. Wells, who thought some of Hickox's calls weren't entirely correct, started exchanging words with the ump and then suddenly was ejected, his second ejection of the season.
"I walked up to Ed and asked him if the first pitch was close," Wells said. "I wasn't mad or irate.
"He didn't like it and he told me to just get back on the mound, he didn't want to hear another word. I said, 'Ed, all I want to do is ask you a question,' and he threw me out and that was it. I think it was too quick of an ejection out there."
Said Black of the scene: "[Wells] thought a few pitches could have gone his way. That was the point of contention."
Wells felt like his early exit compromised the bullpen, but it didn't.
Brocail came in and tossed three shutout innings. He allowed two hits and when it was his turn up to bat, the 40-year-old reliever hit a single. It was his first hit since 1995.
"Brocail is the reason we won that game today," Cameron said.
Brocail came into the game when the Padres were trailing, 3-1.
"That was probably the biggest key to that game," Black said. "Keeping it right there, we held them."
The Padres caught and passed the Braves thanks to a four-run fourth inning. Cameron drilled a home run -- his 11th of the season -- over the center-field wall to drive in Marcus Giles and Gonzalez. Kouzmanoff added a sacrifice fly to drive in Bradley to make the score 5-3.
Greene got the Padres on the board in the second with a solo home run, his 15th of the season, equaling his own franchise single-season home run mark by a shortstop. He also hit 15 in 2004, '05 and '06.
The Braves' Yunel Escobar lined a single to right to drive in Jarrod Saltalamacchia from third base in the third inning to tie the game at 1. With the two runs scored off Wells in the top of the fourth, the Braves had the lead until the bottom of the inning, when the Padres came up with big at-bats.
The Braves (46-42) rallied in the seventh against reliever Heath Bell when center fielder Andruw Jones hit a triple to drive in Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones to knot the game at 5. But the Padres provided a big-seventh inning thanks to Greene and Kouzmanoff. Bell (3-2) came away with the victory after one inning of work.
Both Wells and the Braves' rookie starter, Jo-Jo Reyes, left after three-plus innings of work. Reyes, making his Major League debut, allowed five runs on five hits. Wells yielded three runs on four hits.
The loss went to the Braves reliever Tyler Yates (2-1). The Padres' Trevor Hoffman got the save, his 25th.
"We played a good baseball game today, played good defense," Black said. "Today, we strung together some good at-bats."
Elizabeth Botello is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.