Wolf outduels Johan in Padres' victory
Hairston, Gonzalez, Kouzmanoff come through to sink Mets
SAN DIEGO -- The jersey that hung in Scott Hairston's locker before Friday's game, so white that it nearly glowed, looked nothing like the one the Padres' center fielder peeled off his body after nine not-so ordinary innings.
"They might need to wash this twice," Hairston said, smiling as he tossed his jersey and pants into a nearby laundry basket.
He wasn't kidding.
There were grass stains, sweat, dirt stains from the infield and even a few drops of blood trickled across his pants, remnants from doing a little bit of everything to help the Padres defeat the Mets, 2-1, at PETCO Park.
"This team has a lot of character, none of these guys give in or give up," Hairston said.
In a sense, the Padres' latest victory, their third consecutive victory by a 2-1 score, was eerily reminiscent of so many of those close games from last season when equal parts pitching, defense and a few timely hits often meant victory for San Diego.
That hasn't been the case this season, though the Padres (26-37) are generally playing better, having won eight of their past 12 games, relying on that tried and true formula from a year ago that helped them come within a strike of making the postseason.
"All that stuff that happened in the past, all you can do is learn from it," said Hairston, who started the game by beating out a routine grounder for a hit on his way to getting three hits. He also made a diving catch in center field.
The Padres got seven strong innings from left-handed starter Randy Wolf (4-4) on Friday, though he had some reservations going up against a Mets' lineup that was 14-7 against left-handers this season with a .269 batting average.
"If you can hold these guys down, especially the way they hit lefties ... they're a very tough lineup," said Wolf, who got the better of the other left-hander pitching on Friday, Mets starter Johan Santana, who agreed to a $137.5 million contract over six years in February.
That certainly made Wolf's one-year base contract for $4.75 million looked like the bargain of the offseason on Friday.
"These last three games are what we look for. The starters do a good job and the bullpen does a good job," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Our starting pitchers, as a group, have pitched well. It has been a strength of the team. And Wolf has been a major cog in that rotation."
Wolf, who allowed seven hits and two walks in seven innings, gave the Padres their third strong outing from a starting pitcher. On Thursday, Josh Banks allowed one run in six innings. On Wednesday it was Greg Maddux who stopped the Cubs' eight-game win streak by allowing one run in seven innings.
"I think our starting pitching has been solid all year long," said Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, who earned his 13th save by pitching a scoreless ninth. "They have held us together as a group and continue to do that."
The Padres didn't exactly rough up Santana (7-4), who allowed one earned run on seven hits in six innings. But they certainly made him sweat, especially during the sixth inning when they scored two runs off the left-hander.
Hairston started the inning with a double and advanced to third base when Santana tried to throw Hairston out at third base on Edgar Gonzalez's bunt. With runners on first and third, Brian Giles grounded a ball toward second that hit Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was ruled out on the play and the Padres still had runners on the corners, this time with one out. Adrian Gonzalez, Edgar's younger brother, fouled off two pitches to get one his liked, lining it to center field to tie the score.
Kevin Kouzmanoff then had a nice at-bat of his own, bouncing back from a 0-2 count to work a seven-pitch at-bat before lining a single to center field for a 2-1 lead.
"We had some quality at-bats down the stretch, especially against a tough left-hander like Santana," Hairston said.
From there, former Mets reliever Heath Bell tossed a scoreless inning and Hoffman did the same in the ninth to hold down the Mets (30-30).
"Whether it's 10-1 or 2-1, any win is great for us," Wolf said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.