06/25/08 2:20 AM ET
Late homers doom Padres vs. Twins
Hoffman surrenders pair; Peavy goes six strong frames
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Hoffman, who has more saves than anyone else in Major League history, allowed home runs to Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher in the ninth inning as the Twins pulled away for a 3-1 victory over the Padres in the opening game of this Interleague series.
After the game, Padres manager Bud Black was asked his thoughts about the jeers from the crowd after Hoffman walked off the field after getting the last out of the ninth inning.
"I don't like it," Black said.
Black could well have been talking about the Padres' inability to score more than one run against Twins starter Kevin Slowey and four relievers, who limited San Diego (32-46) to seven hits or even its inability to get a bunt down after the first two batters reached base to start the eighth inning.
"We play a lot of close games," Black said of the Padres, who are now 6-25 when scoring three or fewer runs. "We had a couple of opportunities, but couldn't get it done."
In that eighth inning, Michael Barrett walked and moved to second base after a single by pinch-hitter Craig Stansberry, who was unable to get down a bunt earlier in the at-bat. Leadoff hitter Jody Gerut also could not get down a bunt as he eventually struck out.
The next two hitters, Edgar Gonzalez and Brian Giles, then made successive outs to end an inning that had started so promisingly.
"Not getting them over to third was costly," Black said.
One inning later, the game was over after Hoffman (1-5) left first-pitch fastballs to both Harris (his third home run of the season) and Buscher (his first of the season) that ended up over the left- and right-field walls, respectively.
"I was just looking for a fastball. I saw he got ahead of the first two guys with fastballs and just went right into the changeup," Harris said. "I was just hoping I would get [a fastball] and put it into play and not have to hit the changeup."
Hoffman, who is always present in front of his locker following a blown save, was asked if he heard boos from the fans following the ninth inning as he made his way back to the Padres' dugout.
"Nope," said Hoffman, who allowed two home runs in the same inning for the eighth time in his career. "I'm not worried about that right now."
The Padres, who have lost eight of their last 10 games, are now 3-10 in Interleague Play with two more games against the Twins (41-36) and three more against the Mariners this weekend before climbing back into the National League West Division.
"We can't afford to not play good, solid baseball," San Diego pitcher Jake Peavy said.
In his third start since returning from an right elbow strain that cost him nearly a month, Peavy threw his most pitches (106) since May 9 and appeared sharp in his six innings, allowed one earned run on five hits.
Peavy, who received a no-decision, struck out six and had one walk, recovered well from a 30-pitch first inning in which the Twins scored a run on a walk and two hits, the latter an RBI single by Michael Cuddyer with two outs.
"It is starting to come together. I'm getting close to where I was before I got hurt," Peavy said. "I threw a lot of pitches in those first two innings that limited me to six innings."
Peavy, who retired 10 of 11 hitters starting with the final out of the first inning, got into a bit of trouble in the sixth inning when Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau reached base on an error and a hit, respectively, before Cuddyer made the first out with a grounder that third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff took to the bag himself.
Peavy then got Jason Kubel on a fly ball to center field for the second out before striking out Harris with an 81-mph slider, a ball that had a lot of late life to it and was reminiscent of the nasty sliders that Peavy relied on during his Cy Young march a year ago.
"He feels as though it's coming around to where he's stringing pitches together to hitters. Now he's executing pitches where he wants them. That's a good sign. The confidence is back," Black said.
Slowey, who entered the game with a 4.37 ERA, allowed two hits in the first inning and then retired the next 14 batters that he faced before allowing a one-out single to Gerut in the sixth inning.
"He's in the strike zone," said Padres left fielder Chase Headley, who drove in the only San Diego run in the seventh inning with a ground ball. "He throws three or four pitches for strikes. He was throwing slow stuff early on and then to fast stuff late."
Three of the Padres' seven hits never left the infield.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.