Peavy completely subdues Dodgers
Ace spins two-hitter, goes the distance for first time since 2006
SAN DIEGO -- The cheers that Jake Peavy heard Saturday at PETCO Park are normally reserved for when he leaves the field after a successful start, not when he's headed back to the mound.But those were the cheers Peavy received from the crowd of 38,819, who welcomed the defending National League Cy Young Award winner back to the mound to begin the ninth inning against the Dodgers. "I'm not one of those tunnel guys who can't hear the crowd. It meant a lot that the crowd welcomed me back out to the mound to finish it," Peavy said. "The adrenaline out there, it's not like you're fresh. Sometimes that adrenaline will carry you." So will continually executing pitches, which is something Peavy did over and over again against the Dodgers, allowing just one run on two hits with one walk in a 4-1 complete-game victory over Los Angeles. "It's pretty impressive," Dodgers manager Joe Torre conceded afterward. "He's getting ahead in the count. His pitch count was great, his stuff was outstanding. He just comes after you. You can't help but be impressed with the way he goes about his business. "That's not the kind of pitcher you want to give a four-run lead to." The Padres (4-2) strung together five consecutive hits in the first inning against Dodgers starting pitcher Brad Penny (1-1), who wasn't necessarily struggling with his pitches or command. Those hits -- six when it was over -- led to all four Padres runs. Catcher Josh Bard, who was involved in a strange play in the fourth inning, said that the Padres' success early against Penny had to do more with approach than just looking for a good pitch to hit. "[Padres hitting coach] Wally [Joyner] is doing a good job of preparing us. If you look at the first inning there, I think some guys had some professional at-bats ... hitting the ball the other way," Bard said. "It's really hard to do too much against Penny." And, on this day at least, even more difficult to do so against Peavy, who struck out eight as he amassed 116 pitches, which might be more typical of a midseason start when he is more stretched out. That Peavy tamed the Dodgers should come as no surprise, as he's now 10-1 with a career 2.21 ERA against Los Angeles. Better still, Peavy hasn't lost to the Dodgers since 2003, when PETCO Park -- which opened in 2004 -- was filled with steel girders and dirt, not fans. The complete-game effort was the sixth in Peavy's career, though the first since he beat the Reds on Sept. 2, 2006, in a game where he struck out 14 batters. This performance wasn't constructed so much on raw power as it was on guile. Peavy, as he did in an Opening Day victory over the Astros, used his changeup at times with success, using it to pitch off his fastball and his slider to give the Dodgers (3-2) -- a team that has seen Peavy countless times -- something else to think about. "It gives him another pitch," Bard said. "There's a couple guys on this team, [Jeff] Kent and [Russell] Martin, who have seen his slider a lot. It's still the best slider in the game, but sometimes they're cheating for it. We threw a wrinkle in there." Another new wrinkle came in the ninth inning after Peavy, who had thrown 101 pitches to that point, emerged from the dugout while closer Trevor Hoffman, who had begun to warm up in the bullpen, waited and watched. Peavy said that he didn't have to lobby manager Bud Black too hard to give him the ball to begin the ninth, nor did he have to petition to remain in the game after walking Rafael Furcal to start the inning. "I had to tell him I felt good and that I had something left," Peavy said. "It was tough; we have the best closer of all time down there [in the bullpen]. It's a division foe, it's a save situation. I appreciate Buddy showing the confidence in me. It's no disrespect to No. 51 [Hoffman]." Instead, it was a indication that Peavy, despite battling a cold, feels that these games in April -- and against division foes, no less -- are every bit as important as a game down the stretch in September. One victory, as the Padres learned well a year ago, can make an enormous difference. "Awesome, just like I expected," Padres center fielder Jim Edmonds said of Peavy after playing his first game with his new team. "He goes out there and does his job and works quick. He's one of the toughest pitchers I've ever faced in the National League, so it's nice to be on the other side."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.