Friday, May 8, 2009

Padres-Diamondbacks: Eckstein Walk Off Sends Padres Past D-Backs

David Eckstein got the chance to be a hero yesterday afternoon, in front of a crowd of 18,921 at Petco Park, and he made the most of that opportunity. Eckstein laced an RBI game winning single in the tenth inning to give the Padres a 4-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon.

You might have to look at the at bat just before Eckstein's game winning single. It was a 10-pitch at bat by Chris Burke, that ended in Burke being walked, that loaded the bases and set the stage for Eckstein.

Burke fell behind quickly 0-2 to D-Backs' reliever Esmerling Vazquez but fouled off six pitches, one of which was just out of the reach of Arizona catcher Chris Snyder that landed by the Padres' dugout. That at bat allowed Eckstein to watch the at bat and see what Vazquez was throwing.

Vazquez started Eckstein off with two straight fastballs, working the count to 1-1, but when he tried to throw a third fastball on the outside corner, Eckstein went with the pitch and laced it past first baseman Josh Whitesell for the game winning hit.

Although Eckstein had the game winning hit, he also made a big defensive play in the top half of the tenth inning. Recently called up Josh Whitesell grounded a 1-0 pitch from Paders' reliever Cla Meredith back up the middle, but 2nd baseman David Eckstein made a back hand grab and was able to make a throw on the run to get Whitesell at first to end the inning.

The game was won as a team effort, which is a funny thing to say after the Padres' offense went AWOL on starter Jake Peavy a night earlier. This time, after falling behind 2-0, the Padres battled back, getting two runs in the fifth inning on RBI singles from Edgar Gonzalez and Scott Hairston to tie the game.

In the sixth, Arizona would get the lead back on a sac fly from Eric Byrnes to put them ahead, 3-2, but that lead was short lived.

In the home half of the sixth, after a lead single from Kevin Kouzmanoff, one of this three hits on the day including a lead double in the deciding tenth inning, Padres' catcher Nick Hundley roped a double down the left field line and Kouzmanoff just beat the throw home to tie the game, 3-3.

The Padres also got a great effort from their bullpen, something that hasn't been said in quite some time.

Relievers Edwin Moreno, Luke Gregerson, Heath Bell and Cla Meredith combined for four shutout innings, not giving up a single hit over those four innings while striking out four. Meredith got the win for San Diego, his record now 4-0 on the season, oddly enough he leads the team in wins.

Padres' starter Chris Young pitched six innings, giving up three runs on five hits, walking four and striking out six. He left the game with his team trailing 3-2, but thanks to the RBI double from Nick Hundley, got the no decision, which I'm sure he's much happier about than a loss.

San Diego (13-16) boarded a plane last night bound for Houston, TX as they get ready for a three game set against the Houston Astros (11-17) at Minute Maid Park.

In game one on Friday night the Padres will have Chad Gaudin (0-1, 5.06) on the mound against Astros' left hander Wandy Rodriguez (2-2, 2.19).

Game two the Padres will send Kevin Correia (0-2, 5.92) against the Astros' Brad Moehler (0-2, 14.00).

Game three, the Padres will have young right hander Josh Geer (0-0, 3.96) against Astros' ace right hander Roy Oswalt (0-2, 4.26).

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