Padres pitching perplexes Pirates in defeat
PITTSBURGH — Clayton Richard’s plan was simple.
After the San Diego Padres gave him a three-run lead in the first inning, Richard decided to attack the zone early and often. It worked.
Richard (3-5) allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings, Christian Villanueva homered and drove in two runs, and the Padres beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-2, on Saturday night.
The left-hander pitched into the eighth inning for a third straight start after allowing a combined five runs and 12 hits in his previous two. He gave up seven hits with two strikeouts, and had 65 strikes on 84 pitches.
“I think we established that we were going to be in the zone,” Richard said. “When our offense jumps out to that type of lead, it’s a huge help. You don’t have to be as fine. You give up a homer on a first pitch, it’s one run. You still have a two-run lead. So, being able to just attack the zone early in the count really helps.”
Jose Pirela also had two RBIs for the Padres, who have won two straight games and three of their past four. Villanueva’s 11th home run gave San Diego a 4-0 lead with two outs in the eighth inning.
The Pirates lost a second straight game after winning eight of their previous nine.
“We tried a couple different things, but we weren’t able to push (Richard) until late,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He had really good command tonight. Really good command of the fastball.”
Rookie right-hander Nick Kingham (2-1) gave up three runs on five hits for the first loss of his major league career. He retired the first 23 batters of his debut against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 29 before allowing four runs on six hits in 5• innings in a 6-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on May 4.
“You can’t let the game speed up on you,” Kingham said. “You’re going to get punched in the mouth sometimes. You’re going to get guys on base early, just like tonight.”
A walk to Eric Hosmer followed by three consecutive doubles gave the Padres a 3-0 lead with one out in the first. Franchy Cordero doubled down the right-field line before Pirela drove in two runs with a double down the opposite line, and Villanueva hit the third double to score Pirela from second.
“I thought probably more than anything, the walk that Eric took (was the difference),” Padres manager Andy Green said. “Then we attacked some pitches in, but that guy setting the tone, taking the pitch and getting on base is just as big as hitting the balls right down the line.”
Jordy Mercer, who went 3 for 3, drove in Pittsburgh’s first run with a single in the eighth. Richard left the game after allowing another single to Elias Diaz before Craig Stammen allowed Sean Rodriguez’s double, which made it 4-2.
With runners at second and third, Jose Osuna struck out and Francisco Cervelli flew out to end the inning.
Raffy Lopez hit a sacrifice fly before pinch-hitter Cory Spangenberg homered with one out in the ninth to extend the lead to 6-2.
“The game’s not over until it’s over,” Spangenberg said. “Just getting one run across in late innings is always big.”
Pirates: Kingham was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday. IF Max Moroff was optioned to make room for Kingham on the 25-man roster. Kingham could be sent back to Indianapolis on Sunday with IF Josh Harrison expected to return from breaking his hand April 16.
Pirates: Cervelli returned to the lineup after being given a day off Friday. He was hit by a pitch in his right forearm Tuesday before missing Pittsburgh’s game against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday and playing against San Diego on Thursday.
Padres: RHP Jordan Lyles (1-1, 2.53) will close out the series against the Pirates today. He has allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits with 16 strikeouts in 12• innings through his two starts this season.
Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (5-2, 2.72) will look to win a second straight start when he takes the mound against the Padres today. In his last start, Williams allowed six hits in seven innings of a 7-0 win against the White Sox on Tuesday.