06/03/07 5:59 PM ET
Padres win wet game at RFK
Bard, Bocachica homer in series-deciding win
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
This was essentially the assertion that San Diego manager Bud Black made hours before the left-hander went out and ignored the slippery surface and steady drizzle to do his part to help the Padres to a 7-3 victory over the Nationals.
Call it part premonition and part track record that led Black to his hunch that Wells, 44, wouldn't have an issue with the steadfast rain that opened up over RFK Stadium before and during the game. He was only partly right.
"I've seen it where the uncertainty of how the game is going to play out will affect some players," Black said. "Most ballplayers like structure ... timeframe. I think Boomer is the best guy for us in this situation."
Wells (3-3) did his part Sunday by giving his team five nice innings, as San Diego (33-23) improved to 10 games over .500 for the first time this season. This is certainly a feather in the Padres' soggy cap as they return to PETCO Field to face the Dodgers, with whom they are tied for first place in the National League West Division.
The rains and constant scurrying of the ground crew to repair the mound and other wet spots on the field didn't affect Wells in the least. He worked fast by going slow, again leaning on a steady diet of fastballs in the 80s and a big, bending curveball.
And, by his account, Wells hated every minute of it.
"Terrible, terrible and even worse," Wells said of the slick conditions. "You were lucky to have a dry ball at any given time. It's a lot of wear and tear on you. You're carrying about 20 extra pounds because you're soaking wet. I've never been the five-and-die, but that was enough."
It was plenty.
Wells allowed three runs in five innings -- two coming on a monster two-run home run by Ryan Zimmerman well into the upper deck in left field -- on just five hits with no walks, which is far more than his counterpart, Jason Simontacchi, could say.
Like they did Saturday when they jumped out to an early lead with a six-run first inning, the Padres struck early, as Josh Bard drilled a towering three-run home run over the wall in right field.
And while the Nationals (23-34) tied the game with three runs in the third inning, Wells went back to work, allowing two hits over his final two innings before leaving the game.
The Padres provided Wells with plenty of offense, and it wasn't just restricted to the one swing of the bat by Bard in the first inning. San Diego scored three runs in the top of the fifth, on a solo home run by newcomer Hiram Bocachica and a two-run double by Adrian Gonzalez, for a 6-3 lead.
Wells certainly hasn't been accustomed to such luxuries. Coming into Sunday, the Padres had scored two or fewer runs in five of Wells' first 10 starts, not that it's affected how he has thrown. If anything, Wells has been sharper with fewer runs. He's lowered his ERA from 6.32 on May 10 to 4.79.
Really, Wells had few anxious moments on Sunday, other than the three-run third inning. He allowed a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Tony Batista in the fifth inning, got two outs, before Bocachica made a nice running catch of Zimmerman's drive on the warning track in center field to end the inning.
"Boomer did a great job," Bard said. "The one thing he did that was big for us was that he threw strikes. He didn't walk guys. He had the one inning where he gave up a couple of runs, but he battled and kept us in the game. Boomer is a professional; he's probably forgotten more games than any of us have played."
Because it had been raining all morning and the tarp was on the field when the Padres arrived at the stadium, there was a doubt whether the game would be played. Sensing this, Bard said there was a sense of urgency to start fast.
San Diego's Marcus Giles (three hits) and Terrmel Sledge (two hits) started the opening inning with consecutive singles off Simontacchi. After, Gonzalez flew out to left field to bring up Bard, who has been the hottest hitter on this six-game road trip.
Bard turned on a Simontacchi fastball and sent a towering shot over the wall in right field for a 3-0 lead. Bard would later add an RBI on a sacrifice fly, giving him six RBIs in his last five games. In that same stretch, the Padres catcher is hitting .454.
"I think the biggest thing today is that there was a sense of urgency with the way that the weather was, so I don't know if that focused us in a little more," Bard said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.