Things got exciting in the bottom of the eighth, but in the end it was too little, too late as Clayton Richard spun his third straight quality start as the Padres took their second straight from the home Pirates by a final score of 6-2.
Nothing went right for Pirates’ starter Nick Kingham in the first inning, just recalled for his third start of the year. With one out he walked Eric Hosmer, and then Franchy Cordero, Jose Pirela and Christian Villanueva each pulled ground ball doubles down the lines to give San Diego a quick 3-0 lead.
Just as quickly Richard was mowing down batter after batter, scattering four hits without a walk over the first seven innings. Kingham settled and threw five scoreless innings of his own, allowing only two more hits and one walk over that period. Tyler Glasnow was into his second inning when Villanueva took him deep into the left field seats in the eighth for his eleventh homer of the season, increasing the Padres margin to 4-0.
Suddenly though the Pirates showed signs of life. David Freese led off the bottom of the eighth lining a double to the wall in center. After Austin Meadows grounded out, Jordy Mercer ripped his third hit of the night to break up the shutout. Elias Diaz lined another single and Richard was chased, but holding a 4-1 lead. Sean Rodriguez worked the count to 2-2 against reliever Craig Stammen, then smoked a ball to deep center that turned Manuel Margot the wrong way, falling for a double that made the score 4-2 and leaving the tying runner at second and third with only one out. The elation was short lived as Jose Osuna waved at a 3-2 slider for strike three and Francisco Cervelli lofted an easy fly to left.
Down only a pair, Clint Hurdle turned to his recently demoted setup man George Kontos. Margot reached on an error by the shortstop Mercer, stole second, went to third on the errant throw by Diaz and then scored on a sacrifice fly. Can’t blame that on Kontos, but the next batter Cory Spangenburg deposited a 1-0 pitch well over the Clemente Wall in right to extended the Padres lead to four, the final score being 6-2 as Robbie Erlin easily set the Pirates down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
Kingham rated a game score of 60, throwing 61 of 98 pitches for strikes. He walked only one and struck out five. Other than the disastrous first, it was a strong start.
The four game series concludes Sunday afternoon at 1:35 as righty Jordan Lyles (1-1, 2.53, making his third start) faces arguably the Pirates’ most reliable starter Trevor Williams (5-2, 2.72)