Padres rough up Lincecum to take series
LeBlanc keeps Giants at bay with seven solid innings
SAN FRANCISCO -- So, just how relaxed is this San Diego clubhouse? Adrian Gonzalez strikes out four times and goes 0-for-5 and the Padres still win."It just shows you we're a better offensive club than people give us credit for," said Padres third baseman Chase Headley, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in the Padres' 8-2 victory over the Giants on Sunday at AT&T Park. "We score eight runs against that kind of pitching and our main guy doesn't do anything but get us to Chicago faster by making five outs." Headley couldn't keep a straight face, though. These guys are having too much fun to let someone get away with a hitless day. Of course, it helps that Gonzalez was 9-for-17 over his previous four games, three of them victories. The Padres battered Giants ace Tim Lincecum en route to a series win that put them 3 1/2 games ahead of San Fransciso in the National League West. Miguel Tejada capped a four-run second inning off Lincecum with a two-out, two-run double -- one of his three hits on the day -- and San Diego added two more runs against the two-time Cy Young winner before he exited the game during the fourth inning. Yorvit Torrealba added a solo homer in the fifth as the Padres won their fifth game in the past six.
"Before we came here, we told each other that no matter what happens in this series we still have to keep playing good ball," Tejada said. "We're going to keep playing the way we're playing."
Despite the serious nature of their matchup with the division rival Giants, the NL West-leading Padres have kept things light, as usual. Loose and joking beats tight and serious any day, but particularly on Sundays. The Padres are on a nine-game winning streak on the day kids are allowed to run the bases, and have won 12 of their past 13 games on Sunday.San Diego is 14-5 overall on Sundays and don't ask why. Padres manager Bud Black will only shake his head and shrug. There's no explanation. Wade LeBlanc is as good as explanation as any. He got plenty of run support, something that has been missing in most of his starts this season. It was almost overkill as LeBlanc (7-10) pitched brilliantly over seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits in the Padres' victory over the Giants. He walked two and struck out seven, one shy of his career high. "My mechanics felt a little off between the third and fifth innings but Yorvit did a great job of getting me through those innings," said LeBlanc, who was on the same collegiate All-American team with Lincecum in 2006. "It's always exciting to say you shared the mound with a guy with that kind of background." LeBlanc made one mistake all game, giving up a two-run homer to Buster Posey in the third inning, and he's honored to share the mound with Lincecum? "Wade pitched a good ballgame," Black said. "He got stronger as the game went on. I thought his command improved and he stayed right there with Lincecum." Actually, he stayed a lot longer than Lincecum by over three innings. Lincecum lasted 3 2/3 innings in losing his third consecutive start for the first time in his career. "You can see he's not dialed in with his location," Headley said. "But that's part of baseball; everybody goes through it. It was just nice to go out there and take advantage." The Padres had given LeBlanc an average of 3.22 runs of support entering the game -- the third lowest in the National League. San Diego scored four times off Lincecum (11-7) in the second inning and never looked back. "You still approach the game like it's 0-0, but at the same time if you're going to make a mistake, you err on the side of being overaggresive," LeBlanc said. "You can't change your approach based on the score." Along with the RBIs by Tejada and Torrealba, Ryan Ludwick, Tony Gwynn and Everth Cabrera also drove in runs for the Padres, who have beaten the Giants in nine of 11 meetings, though this is the first time either team has won by more than three runs.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.