Lopez's big hit lifts Brewers over Padres
Milwaukee got key hits from reserves Felipe Lopez and Frank Catalanotto in a five-run seventh inning and Carlos Villanueva threw five shutout innings in the Brewers’ 6-1 win over the Padres on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
The afternoon was capped off by the first appearance of Hoffman, baseball’s all-time saves leader with 577, back in San Diego where he played for 16 seasons. Hoffman, who left on strained terms with the Padres’ front office, entered in the ninth to a standing ovation from what remained of the crowd of 23,696.
“Everything’s been great,” Hoffman said. “People responded, it didn’t surprise me. It was pretty awesome.”
Hoffman signed with Milwaukee as a free agent in the offseason after the Padres pulled their only contract offer off the table.
More importantly, for the Brewers, was avoiding a sweep at hands of San Diego, which is in last place in the NL West.
“We’re looking to get any one (win) we can right now,” said manager Ken Macha of his Brewers, who won for just the fourth time in 11 games.
Catalanotto broke a 1-all tie with an RBI single in the seventh followed three batters later by Lopez’s three-run double that broke open the game.
“We got the timely hits when we needed to,” Catalanotto said. “We need to do more of this and get things turned around.”
The loss snapped San Diego’s five-game winning streak.
Mitch Stetter (3-1) got the final two outs of the sixth and earned the win, combining with four pitchers to allow just five hits against a Padres’ lineup that had at least 10 in five straight games.
Although Hoffman, who has 23 saves this season, did not come into a save situation, he was glad to have the chance to pitch before the fans who made him one of the most popular players in franchise history.
“In the heat of the moment right there, I’m trying to preserve the win and get some outs,” said Hoffman in response to a question about whether he was nervous. “There were times throughout the three days here I had some neat moments with some people that took place. It was perfect.”
Milwaukee got a solid outing from Villanueva, who made his second start of the season after 43 relief appearances. The right-hander held the Padres in check as he allowed two hits through five shutout innings. Most of San Diego’s baserunners came on Villanueva’s four walks.
The outing was much better than Villanueva’s other start on Tuesday, when the right-hander lost 8-3 against Washington. He allowed five runs on eight hits in four innings of that one.
“It felt pretty good because I was able to execute,” said Villanueva. “I got myself in trouble with the walks, but I was able to make pitches when I had to.”
He also used two key double plays to escape trouble.
In the third inning, San Diego loaded the bases when Villanueva got Adrian Gonzalez to hit into an inning-ending double play. He then got pitcher Kevin Correia (7-9) to hit into a double play in the fifth with runners on first and second and no outs. After Correia faked a bunt, he pulled back his bat and hit the ball right back to Villanueva.
“Looking back, I could’ve just tried to bunt them over,” Correia said. “But it was a situation where it was wide open to do. If I hit it anywhere else, it gets the job done.”
The Brewers’ big seventh inning got going with Casey McGehee’s one-out single and a double by Mike Cameron that knocked out Correia.
Joe Thatcher came in and gave up a single to Catalanotto to put the Brewers ahead 2-1. Rookie Luke Gregerson relieved Thatcher and after a strikeout, hit pinch-hitter Jody Gerut to load the bases. Lopez then hit a line drive down the right-field line to score three runs.
Craig Counsell followed with an RBI single to make the score 6-1.
Correia was charged with three runs and two hits over 6 1-3 innings.
San Diego tied the game at 1-all in the sixth on Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI double off reliever Claudio Vargas, which scored Everth Cabrera.
NOTES: The Brewers won for the fifth time in their last 17 road games. ... Hoffman faced San Diego for just the third time in his career. His other two appearances came in 1993 with the Florida Marlins.