ON WEDNESDAY night, the San Diego Padres lost for the seventh time in their last nine games, which wasn’t surprising since they had three players in their lineup in a combined 1-for-72 slump.
Yesterday afternoon, Carlos Quentin and Jace Peterson were given a much-needed afternoon off, but Everth Cabrera remained. The lineup adjustments did little to help baseball’s worst offense.
The Padres entered the last of three games at Citizens Bank Park last in baseball in hits (462), runs (197), OPS (.619), batting average (.216) and total bases (735). They left South Philly with another loss, not surprisingly.
San Diego was the panacea for Kyle Kendrick and the Phillies. The previously slumping Kendrick threw five shutout innings after his latest attack of the first-inning hiccups, and Reid Brignac, Wednesday night’s walkoff hero, supplied the offensive punch again, with a go-ahead, pinch-hit, two-run double in the sixth, as the Phillies rolled to a 7-3 victory.
The win was the third in a row for the Phillies, tying a season high. The three-game sweep was the second of the season; the first came 2 months ago against the Miami Marlins in the Phillies first homestand of 2014.
“It’s what we were looking for and all we can do is create some momentum from that,” manager Ryne Sandberg said. “It’s something that we want to continue to do and starting of this homestand with a sweep could go a long way for us.”
Next up: an opportunity to win their fourth straight game with the National League’s worst team, the Chicago Cubs, arriving in town. It has been 374 days since the last time the Phillies won more than three games in a row: June 2-6 2013.
“It’s definitely hard to believe, but I don’t know the answer for that,” Kendrick said. “But we can do that tomorrow, right?”
Kendrick entered his 13th start of his free-agent-walk season at 1-6 with a 4.30 ERA. Dating back to last year, Kendrick had a 5.25 ERA in his last 30 starts.
But for the majority of yesterday, the 29-year-old Kendrick looked more like the pitcher who had a 3.22 ERA after his first 13 starts a year ago.
Kendrick allowed hits to three of the first four batters he faced, putting the Phillies in a 2-0 deficit after the first inning.
It marked the seventh time in his last eight starts that Kendrick had allowed at least one run in his first inning of work. Fourteen of the 36 earned runs Kendrick has allowed this season have come in the first inning.
But after yesterday’s first innings, Kendrick allowed four singles over the next five innings and didn’t walk a batter. Kendrick collected his second win of the season by allowing one unearned run on seven hits in six innings; he struck out five and didn’t issue a walk for the first time in nine starts.
“Kendrick gave up two runs in the first and then was solid and had a good start,” Sandberg said. “He put zeros up on the board, giving the offense a chance to swing the bats.”
“Getting ahead was the main thing for me,” Kendrick said. “Strike one. They had some early contact.”
John Mayberry Jr., who helped put the game away with a three-run homer in the seventh, got the Phillies offense started in support of Kendrick.
He followed a leadoff single by Marlon Byrd with a double in the fourth. With Byrd on third, Domonic Brown hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2.
Mayberry doubled in his next at-bat, too, igniting what would be the game-winning really in the sixth. Mayberry finished the day 3-for-4; he is hitting .280 with two home runs and three doubles in his last seven starts.
“I think my rhythm and timing has been a lot better, and on top of that, my pitch selection has been better,” Mayberry said. “I think you have to allow [the pitcher] the opportunity to make a mistake, and when they do you have to trust yourself.”
“He’s always prepared and definitely played a big part in today’s game,” Sandberg said of Mayberry, who started in place of Ryan Howard. “He could be a consideration [to start more].”
Later in the sixth, three batters after Mayberry’s leadoff double, Howard struck out after a 13-pitch at-bat against San Diego reliever Dale Thayer. But the at-bat was productive from Brignac’s perspective at the on-deck circle, where he was waiting to pinch-hit for Kendrick.
“What an at-bat ... I saw pretty much every pitch he had from the side,” Brignac said. “I’m getting my timing on every pitch and he was pretty consistent on his rhythm.”
Brignac needed to see just three more pitches before getting his third go-ahead hit in the span of 14 days.
“He’s doing a nice job with an opportunity,” Sandberg said of the reserve infielder. “He’s a free swinger up there, he lets it go. It’s good to have a guy like that around. He’s up there trying to make something happen, that’s for sure.”
An inning after Brignac gave the Phillies the lead, Mayberry made it a 7-2 game with his fifth home run of the season. The extra cushion opened up an opportunity for recently promoted reliever Ken Giles.
After Mario Hollands recorded the first two outs of the ninth inning, Giles, the owner of a 100 mph fastball, made his major league debut.
“This is it,” Giles thought to himself as he took the mound. “My dreams are coming true. I’ve got my greatest goal accomplished.”
Giles hit triple digits (100 mph) with his first major league pitch. But his fifth pitch sailed out of the reach of a leaping Brown and into the flower pot above the leftfield fence.
Giles served up a home run to Yasmani Grandal, the first major league hitter he faced.
“I was looking for a fastball on that 3-1 pitch,” Grandal said. “I was going to swing even if it was 10 feet over my head.”
Giles bounced back with a strikeout of Alexi Aramista to end the game.
“It was fun, it was great,” Giles said. “I know that I showed them what I can throw and what I can do. Now that I got the first one out of the way, it’s just time to pitch.”
On Twitter: @rlawrence21