video thumbnail

Must C Catch: Venable's amazing grab keeps game going

SAN FRANCISCO -- The first game Bud Black ever managed came here in this ballpark, the season opener to the 2007 season as the Padres shut out the Giants in a win that proved to be about as drama-free and humdrum as victories of note can be.

To be sure, Black's 500th victory as manager of the Padres included far more anxious moments, peculiar twists and turns and statistical oddities, enough to make this game memorable for reasons other than the big round number attached to it.

It wasn't easy, but Black got his milestone and the Padres got their season-best seventh consecutive win with a 5-3 victory in 13 innings Monday at AT&T Park, as San Diego pushed past the defending World Series champions in the National League West standings.

"That," said Padres third baseman Chase Headley, "was a great team win."

And a weird one at that, as the go-ahead run scored when Tuesday's starting pitcher, Andrew Cashner, dropped down a bunt that allowed the speedy Alexi Amarista to score from third base in the top of the 13th off Giants reliever Jose Mijares (0-1).

"That was crazy, huh?" Cashner said afterward.

That doesn't even come close to describing this victory, one that came with the Padres (36-34) not at all at full strength, down two players as Everth Cabrera (mild left hamstring strain) and Carlos Quentin (sore left shoulder) were on the lineup card but unavailable.

That made it a total of five players -- including three on the disabled list -- from the Opening Day starting lineup who were not in a position to help the Padres win the first game of the three-game series against the Giants (35-34).

That said, the Padres cobbled together 18 hits against eight Giants pitchers, though the play of the game -- Cashner's bunt not withstanding -- came from a guy who made six outs and failed at least twice to get bunts down earlier in the game.

With the potential winning run at second base with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning, Juan Perez lifted a long fly ball to center field that kept carrying as Will Venable gave chase. Venable sped up as the ball appeared on its way to carrying past him. At the last possible moment, he left his feet and grabbed the ball as he was fully extended.

He landed on the warning track, the ball firmly tucked away in his glove. Venable wasn't available after the game.

"It was one of the best catches I've seen to save a game. It's as simple as that. It's a game-saving catch," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

In the 13th inning, Amarista and Chris Denorfia singled with Amarista scurrying to third base on Denorfia's hit. Out of position players and with left-hander Mijares on the mound, Black went to his bench for Cashner, who had four hits in 17 at-bats this season prior to the game.

"We ran out of players," Black said, flatly.

Cashner was instructed to bunt and he did that, pushing a ball to the left of the mound that appeared to catch the Giants by surprise. Amarista raced home with the go-ahead run and Cashner was credited with a single and an RBI. Later in the inning, Yasmani Grandal walked with the bases loaded for an insurance run.

"That was pretty cool," Cashner said, beaming. "I've never had a game-winning RBI before."

Closer Huston Street allowed a hit in the bottom of the inning before getting the last out, completing the last of eight shutout innings by a bullpen that had been fortified in recent days by several long starts by pitchers in the rotation.

But after Edinson Volquez allowed three runs in five innings Tuesday, the bullpen was needed in a big way.

"The bullpen arms were fresh and throwing well," Black said. "... That's how you win games like this."

Denorfia, Forsythe and newcomer shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, each had three hits for the Padres, who had four hits in 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Headley had two hits, as did Kyle Blanks.

It was a single by Headley in the seventh inning, after falling behind in the count, 0-2, that tied the game at 3.

San Francisco pitcher Barry Zito looked in control early, especially after striking out eight in the first five innings alone. The game changed when the Padres got into the Giants' bullpen.

"It came down to an at-bat here and there, the bullpens were used, closers were used," Black said. "... There was a lot of maneuvering tonight."

In the end, though, this one fell the same way that game back in April 2007 did for Black, with a win against one of his former teams, the Giants, at AT&T Park. Following the game, the game ball from the final out sat on his desk.

Black was twirling it in his hands as he was asked what it all meant -- the milestone and just how it was achieved.

"I guess it means I get a chance for 501," Black quipped after midnight.

MLB.com Comments