"How to win a game with just one hit."
It sounds like one of those gimmicky how-to articles. Or a title for an impending romantic comedy. But the San Diego Padres gave the baseball world some instruction on how to do something you don't see very often. That's why most people who are around the game enough do not get surprised by much anymore.
With help from Francisco Liriano's spotty control that led to six walks in just five innings or work, San Diego was able to win its 27th game of the season by the score of 3 to 2. The win helped the Pads avoid a sweep and sent Liriano to 1-6 as his nightmare season continues a year after being named the National League Comeback Player of the Year for his role in the Pirates' playoff run in 2013.
The best tidbit might be that the Padres' only hit came in the first inning - a bunt single from shortstop Evereth Cabrera. Cabrera's bunt moved leadoff man, Chris Denorfia to third base after he walked and stole second base. Carlos Quentin followed it up with a sacrifice fly and then Cabrera came around on an error from second baseman, Josh Harrison.
But Pittsburgh would eventually score two runs in the game, which meant that the home side would need to push at least one more across without the fortune of a single hit for the rest of the game. Francisco Liriano took care of them, there. The lefty hurler walked four batters in the fourth inning, a string that included an intentional walk to the eighth hitter followed by an unintentional free pass to the starting pitcher, Ian Kennedy. Liriano escaped the jam from there, but the erratic inning would spell the end of his evening.
Miraculously, Pirate reliever Jarrod Hughes would enter in the sixth to walk another three batters before pulling his best escape act and getting out of the inning unscathed.
Meanwhile, Ian Kennedy put together his third consecutive quality start and handed a lead over to the reliable San Diego bullpen, which did its job from there. Huston Street closed the door in the ninth for his 18th save in as many chances. And the Padres' staff finished the game after surrendering seven hits - but just a single walk.
The Pirates will return home for a pivotal early-season series against the division-leading Brewers, while the Padres will stay at home to take on the Washington Nationals. They'll also hope to get a few more hits.