04/11/09 3:25 AM ET
Hairston highlights Padres victory
Great catch, big homer preserve Hill's debut win
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
It only appears that way, especially when Hairston finds himself in the lineup against a team that he has a knack for occasionally using as his own personal whipping post.
It happened again Friday, when even a 51-minute rain delay couldn't keep Hairston and the Padres from a 7-3 victory over the Giants before a crowd of 20,507 at PETCO Park.
Hairston had three hits, including a three-run home run in the eighth inning, and robbed Bengie Molina of an extra-base hit with a runner on base in what was a two-run game in the top of the eighth inning, as the Padres (3-2) hung on for the victory.
"It happens," Hairston said, shrugging his shoulder. "I really can't say. I don't prepare any differently when we play the Giants."
Hairston's late-inning heroics were close to legendary stuff in the second half of 2007 after he was acquired by the Padres from Arizona. He has hit seven home runs against San Francisco since the trade and has more home runs (10) against these Giants (2-2) than any other Major League team.
As was the case during Thursday's stirring comeback victory over the Dodgers, it was not just one player who helped the Padres win a game, though Hairston's bat and glove certainly did plenty of damage.
"You can point to a lot of guys who had a big part in this game," Padres manager Bud Black said.
There was reliever Luke Gregerson, who entered the game for Shawn Hill in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, one run in and no outs with the Padres clinging to a 4-2 lead. No, this wasn't a soft landing by any means for the rookie.
But Gregerson ran a ball in on Travis Ishikawa, who bounced a ball hard at Gold Glove winner Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Gonzalez, despite playing behind the bag, scooped the ball up and threw home to catcher Nick Hundley, who returned the throw for a unlikely 3-2-3 double play.
"Any pitcher will tell you a double play is your best friend," Gregerson said. "Right before that, when we were on the mound, Adrian told Nick that if he got the ball he was likely coming to him. I'm lucky it wasn't a soft grounder."
Gregerson then struck out Aaron Rowand on a nasty slider to end the inning and also to preserve the lead and eventually Hill's first victory since June 13 of last season when he was still pitching for the Washington Nationals.
"That [double play] was huge. Between [Gregerson] and Scotty ... you can put the win on their shoulders," said Hill, who allowed two runs on seven hits in five-plus innings in his first start for the Padres. "You just hope to come out of that situation with a lead. But to get out of there without allowing anything was huge."
Hill, who was released late in Spring Training by the Nationals, started to tire in the sixth inning and was gone after 69 pitches. Before the sixth inning, Hill allowed three hits and had done a good job keeping his sinker down.
"My arm strength isn't quite where I want it to be. I'd like to get stronger. I feel like I'm still playing catchup at this point," Hill said.
That Hill found himself with a bat in his hands in the first inning was a good, though unlikely, sign. The Padres backed him with three runs in the first inning off Barry Zito (0-1). Hill popped out to Ishikawa at first base to end the inning. He didn't mind at all.
"Usually, you don't expect to do that. It's definitely good hitting ... because if you are hitting, that means you have the lead," Hill said.
The Padres would have liked to have squeezed another inning out of Gregerson, but the rain started to fall after the sixth inning. The Padres covered the final three innings with relievers Edward Mujica, Duaner Sanchez and Edwin Moreno, who combined to allow just one run.
Through five games, San Diego relievers have a 1.69 ERA with three runs allowed over 16 innings.
This from an almost completely rebuilt bullpen that gained another new member prior to Friday's game when the Padres claimed Luis Perdomo off waivers from the Giants to add to a stable of newly acquired power arms in the bullpen.
So far, the results have been good.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.