Sentences you don't expect to write, but are always happy to: Edinson Volquez was a force to be reckoned with today. In seven innings, he allowed just one run on 6 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 9. He was backed up by some solid offense and phenomenal defense. With this sweep, the Padres are now just two games under .500 and could possibly be just four games out of first place at the end of the night.
The Padres got things started off right in the bottom of the first. Everth Cabrera drew a leadoff walk and then moved to second on a Chase Headley single. Then Carlos Quentin reached on Dan Uggla's error. Bases loaded, one out, Kyle Blanks at the plate. And Paul Maholm walked him. In fairness, I'd be terrified, too. Then Logan Forsythe knocked in two more runs with a single. Jesus Guzman would get the bases loaded again with an infield single, but Yasmani Grandal a liner right to Andrelton Simmons for the inning ending double play. Hard to be mad with a 3-0 lead, though.
The Braves offense took a while to get started, but they got on the board in the third inning. Simmons picked up a single and moved to third on Jason Heyward's double. With one out, Justin Upton's single to left field scored Atlanta's first run of the day. With Volquez on the mound, there was ample reason to be concerned. But Headley was cool as ice when he made a gorgeous inning ending double play.
After the Padres' stellar first inning, Maholm retired 11 in a row. Everth Cabrera broke that streak in the fifth inning with a single, then took second for his 30th steal of the season. He's now on pace to steal a whopping 73 bags, which would top the team record that Alan Wiggins has held since 1984. He didn't really need to steal this time around, though. Chris Denorfia crushed his fourth home run of the year.
Anyone doing the Tomahawk Chop in the top of the sixth was quickly silenced when Volquez threw a 3-pitch inning. First pitch: Freddie Freeman singles. Second pitch: Evan Gattis lines it right to Forsythe, who doubles up Freeman at first. Third pitch: B.J. Upton hits a sharp grounder, but Headley is all over it. Braves fans cry.
Bud Black replaced Volquez in the 8th, and it didn't look like a great idea right away as Justin Upton hit a solo homerun off Joe Thatcher. When Freeman then reached first on an error, Dale Thayer came in to clean up the mess. A wild pitch moved Freeman to second, but Thayer came up with two big strikeouts to end the threat.
Luke Gregerson came in to close things out, and it was predictably unnerving. Uggla had a leadoff single and then moved to second on a fielder's choice. He'd go all the way home on Jordan Schafer's single. And then, with two outs, Bud did something truly unexpected: He went back to the bullpen. Tommy Layne came in and gave up another single, this time to Heyward. And Bud went to the bullpen again, bringing in Nick Vincent. After starting with a 2-0 count to Justin Upton, Vincent turned it around and got him on a called third strike. Sweep!
Tomorrow's an off day to build anticipation for Friday's much anticipated 1998 throwback night. Eric Stults will be wearing the blue and orange as he takes on Trevor Cahill. First pitch at 7:10 PM.
32 - 34
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