LOS ANGELES -- Cory Luebke's first start of the season on April 6 certainly didn't go the way he wanted it go, as the Padres left-hander allowed five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Contributing to that rough start was the fact that Luebke's changeup -- a pitch that figures to be of great importance to him in 2012 -- essentially deserted him that day.
"That was frustrating because it was a pitch I worked on a lot in the offseason and then during Spring Training," Luebke said. "Then to go out your first day and not find it ... that was frustrating."
Luebke said he only threw four or five changeups in that first start against the Dodgers. He then threw what he estimates were "15 to 20 of them" in his last start against the D-backs on April 11 and fared considerably better.
Luebke allowed one earned run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision of a game the Padres went on to win, 2-1.
"I think [catcher Nick Hundley] put it down in counts where we really haven't used it before," Luebke said. "Behind in the count, we doubled up on it a few times. I was glad that he put it down."
Spence focused on throwing quality strikes
LOS ANGELES -- Lost in Saturday's power display by Matt Kemp were the two scoreless innings of work from Padres left-handed reliever Josh Spence.
Better still was Spence's ball-strike ratio in the outing: 25 pitches and 18 strikes, as he allowed one hit with no walks and one strikeout.
"It's not just about throwing strikes but it's about throwing quality strikes," Spence said. "I'm just trying to get ahead of the hitters. Part of the reason I think I'm part of his bullpen is that I don't walk guys. ... I think I got away from that a little last year."
Spence, 24, was promoted from Double-A San Antonio last June and retired the first 11 batters that he faced and also retired the first batter he faced in each of his first 15 appearances.
Spence ran into trouble in the month of August when he walked 11 batters in 11 innings.
"He burst onto the scene and had success but by the end of the season, the walk had come into play and the ball-strike ratio wasn't where he wanted it," said Padres manager Bud Black.
"We talked about that this spring, about being a little more consistent with his stuff in the strike zone. I think last night [Saturday] was a great example of that."
Wieland's friends, family on hand for his debut
LOS ANGELES -- It was difficult to distinguish the contingent of Joe Wieland fans on Saturday at Dodger Stadium amid a crowd of 46,549 -- but they were there.
Wieland, who made his Major League debut against the Dodgers, estimates that he had more than 30 friends and family at the game, many who made the trip from Wieland's hometown of Reno.
"I left 15 tickets but there were over 30 of them here," Wieland said. "They were scattered all over the place."
Wieland allowed six runs on six hits in five innings, including two home runs to Matt Kemp and one to Andre Ethier. Wieland retired 10 of the final 12 hitters he faced.
Wieland got a chance to see his family afterward.
"It was awesome to see everyone after the game," he said.
Wieland will get his next start on Thursday when the Padres return to Petco Park to open a four-game series against the Phillies.