SAN DIEGO (The Sports Xchange) — Even when his catcher opened the season with 24 straight hitless at-bats, San Diego Padres manager Andy Green had faith in 24-year-old Austin Hedges.
“Hedges can hit,” Green said Friday night after the catcher hit a monumental three-run homer to cap a four-run seventh to beat Miami 5-3 and reward Trevor Cahill a victory in his first start as a Padre before his hometown fans.
“I’ve known that the whole time,” continued Green. “We knew it when he was struggling.”
Well, Hedges isn’t struggling now.
His home run onto the distant corner of the third balcony of the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left was his fourth in six games. And the 428-foot blast made Hedges 9-for-27 with two doubles, the four homers and seven RBIs since his dreadful start.
“I trust the process,” Hedges said. “I have high expectations. Tonight, I was trying to get a knock and get the two runners on base home.”
Hedges’ blast came off Miami reliever David Phelps (2-2) who gave up four runs on four hits in the seventh after entering a 1-1 tie.
“That was a cutter in the middle of the plate and he did what he was supposed to do with it,” said Phelps, whose ERA climbed to 8.10. “I’m just leaving balls in the middle of the plate. It’s getting to the point where it is embarrassing. Thankfully, I’ve never before been in a stretch like this.”
Moments before Hedges’ blast, the Padres broke a 1-1 tie when pinch-hitter Luis Sardinas scored on a double-play grounder by Wil Myers.
Sardinas, Manuel Margot and Eric Aybar opened the seventh with consecutive singles – Aybar’s coming when he beat out an intended sacrifice bunt against Phelps. Sardinas then scored on Myers double play grounder to second. Yangervis Solarte was intentionally walked in front of Hedges’ rocket.
Giancarlo Stanton, who won the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game break at Petco Park last July, cut the Padres margin from four runs to two with a two-run homer off reliever Brad Hand in the ninth.
Cahill, who retired 17 of the last 18 Marlins he faced, got the win (2-1) as the Padres won a third straight game for the first time this season.
Cahill pitched seven innings and allowed the one run — on Marcell Ozuna’s game-tying, 431-foot second-inning homer into the second deck in left. Cahill gave up three hits total plus a walk with six strikeouts. He also got 13 outs on ground balls.
“Trevor was getting a lot of outs on sinkers, but it was his slider that was working great tonight,” Hedges said.
“Cahill pitched incredibly well,” Green said.
Cahill, a graduate of Vista High north of San Diego, had pitched at Petco Park before. But this was his first home outing as a Padre.
“I didn’t know what I was going to feel like,” Cahill said. “The goal was to keep the ball down.”
The Padres took a quick 1-0 two hitters into the game.
Margot ran a double into the triple when Stanton threw the ball from right field behind the fast rookie center fielder after fielding Margot’s drive off the wall. Aybar, who had the game-winning hit in each of the Padres last two wins, drove Margot home with a sacrifice fly to Stanton.
But the lead lasted only two hitters. Ozuna drove a 1-and-1 offering from Cahill for his sixth homer.
For the next four innings, Cahill dominated while Miami left-handed starter Adam Conley worked his way out of a series of jams.
The Padres had runners at first and third with one out in the first and failed to add on. They had runners at second and third with one out in the second and didn’t score. They had runners at first and second with none out in the fourth and didn’t score.
Meanwhile, Cahill retired 15 straight Marlins before Justin Bour grounded an infield single to short with one out in the seventh.
Conley allowed one run on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts in six innings.
NOTES: Friday night marked the first time this season that Miami had both 3B Martin Prado and SS Adeiny Hechavarria on the field at the same time. Prado was on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain from Opening Day through April 16. Hechavarria came off the disabled list with a left oblique strain Thursday. . . The Marlins optioned INF JT Riddle to Triple-A New Orleans Thursday and outrighted INF Tyler Moore to New Orleans Friday.
… San Diego RHP Luis Perdomo will come off the 10-day disabled list Sunday to start the series finale.
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