Persistent Peavy earns support in finale
Righty allows lone run; Padres rally for three runs in seventh
SAN DIEGO -- Jake Peavy hardly ever listens to sports talk radio. But on the way home from the ballpark on Wednesday night, he just happened to listen in and heard from fans and others that they were disappointed he didn't pitch against Johan Santana in New York or against CC Sabathia on Tuesday.
Well, Ben Sheets is every bit the pitcher those guys are and when it was announced that it would be Peavy-Sheets in the third game of the Padres-Brewers series at PETCO Park, everyone knew they'd be in for a treat.
Peavy and Sheets did not disappoint, as they battled back-and-forth during a 3-2 Padres victory on Thursday afternoon.
"You could tell early on that both guys had good stuff and it was going to be that type of game," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Jake has pitched really well at home and Sheets was an All-Star, and he's thrown the ball great. You could just sense right away that it was going to be a good one. I think any fan of pitching or baseball enjoys those matchups."
Through six innings, neither team could manufacture any production as the two aces allowed only three hits between them early.
But in the top of the seventh, after Peavy walked Bill Hall, former Padres outfielder Mike Cameron knocked in the first run of the game on an RBI single to left. Sheets now had a one-run cushion.
But unlike past games when even small deficits could lead to a loss for Peavy, the bats woke up in the bottom of the seventh and gave Peavy the support he needed.
Kevin Kouzmanoff singled, Chase Headley doubled and Tadahito Iguchi hit an RBI single to left to tie the game. That was the end of the night for Sheets, after he went 6 2/3 innings, eventually allowing three runs on five hits, with two walks and four strikeouts on 110 pitches.
"Coming in, we knew it would be hard to hang a lot of runs on Sheets," Headley said. "So you just got to battle through it and fortunately, we were able to grab a couple of runs in the seventh and get Jake that win that he needed. He deserved it."
Brian Myrow then followed with a sacrifice fly and two batters later, Jody Gerut singled in Iguchi to make it 3-1 with the Brewers' Brian Shouse on the mound.
But prior to a Luis Rodriguez single to right, Shouse threw a wild pitch, leading to a play at the plate between Gerut and Shouse where it appeared that Gerut had slid into home scoring what would have been the fourth run of the inning for San Diego. But as Gerut got up to go to the dugout, he was tagged by Shouse, and called out by home plate umpire Mike Everitt.
"I thought, initially, that he hit the plate with his feet, slid right through [Shouse]," Black said. "But I guess that wasn't the case."
"The man's got a tough job. Period." Gerut said. "It's hard to be an umpire. I'm glad I'm a player, 'cause I could never be an umpire. He's got a tough job."
Nevertheless, the Padres had produced three crucial runs against one of the National League's best pitchers.
"What a day for the boys to come back and beat a guy like Ben Sheets," said Peavy, who allowed one run on four hits, with three walks and eight strikeouts on 116 pitches over seven innings. "Especially after going down one late when he's been so dominant throughout the game."
After Heath Bell completed the eighth unscathed, the Padres put the ball in the hands of future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman. It wasn't smooth sailing, as Hoffman gave up a one-out homer to left to Cameron to make it 3-2. But Hoffman got Jason Kendall to fly out, and struck out pinch-hitter Gabe Kapler for save No. 550 for his career and win No. 9 on the season for Peavy.
"That was a great, all-around baseball game," Headley said. "Jake did what he always does when he's out there and gave us a chance to win."
Ronald Clark is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.