Maurer's long relief 'critical' for Padres in win

Reliever provides bridge to Kimbrel with 2 scoreless innings

Maurer's long relief 'critical' for Padres in win

SAN DIEGO -- Chances are that Padres' reliever Brandon Maurer will remain planted on the bench in the home bullpen at Petco Park on Sunday, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't have contributed to the greater good of the team.

In fact, Maurer essentially saved the bullpen in Saturday's 4-2 victory over the Rockies, when he tossed two scoreless innings in relief, providing more than a capable bridge between starter Brandon Morrow and closer Craig Kimbrel.

Maurer needed 23 pitches (16 strikes) to dispense of the six Rockies he faced. He didn't allow a hit or a walk and struck out one.

The Padres were without Joaquin Benoit, who is fighting a dead arm and with Kevin Quackenbush, Nick Vincent and Dale Thayer being used on Friday, the Padres needed coverage on Saturday. Maurer gave them just that.

"The way our bullpen is, we're sort of running out of options if we want to keep guys fresh for tomorrow and moving forward," Padres manager Bud Black said after Saturday's game. "… I thought Brandon could go another inning. He had two days off. I liked the way he was throwing."

This was the second time Maurer has worked more than one inning this season. Maurer was a starting pitcher just as recently as the first half last season with the Mariners, so squeezing a second inning doesn't qualify as trying for him, Black said.

"And for him to go back another inning, physically it's not taxing, but mentally he's got to be on board. We very quickly told him he was going back at it. He threw the ball very well. Fastball, slider and change were very effective," Black said. "I didn't think they had good swings on him.

"That was critical, his performance seventh, eighth inning in a very close game."

Kimbrel closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out two for his seventh save this season.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.