SAN DIEGO -- Will Middlebrooks knocked in three runs and Odrisamer Despaigne allowed one run over a career-high eight innings Sunday as the Padres defeated the Pirates, 7-1, before a crowd of 20,556 at Petco Park.
Jedd Gyorko knocked in two runs for the Padres (25-27) and Clint Barmes had three hits against his former team as the teams split the four-game series.
"We knew this coming in, the Padres have an explosive ballclub," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Their bullpen and the [starting] pitching has always been their strength. That offense they can put out there on the field can be pretty potent. They have a good team."
Despaigne (3-3) allowed one run on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts. He has now allowed a combined five earned runs in his last three starts.
"We've talked about him being less of a trickster and more of a pitcher," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He's doesn't need to fool people. He can pitch."
Gregory Polanco got the Pirates (26-24) their only run with a homer in the seventh inning, his third of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Long ball, long name: Middlebrooks' home run in the third inning was his seventh of the season -- and his first at Petco Park. Better still, he has the longest last name (12 letters) of any Padres player to hit a home run at Petco Park.
Pedro happens: Once again, Pedro Alvarez couldn't make a routine play at first base, booting a Derek Norris grounder smacked right at him with two out in the second inning, costing the Pirates an unearned run. Alvarez has seven errors this season and one in each of the last two games. His inability to get back to the bag quickly enough Thursday night caused errors by two of his other teammates on the same play.
GyorkStore called, it wants May back: After a miserable first month of the season offensively, Gyorko is starting to heat up at the plate. He had a two-run single in the first inning Sunday to kick-start the Padres' offense. He finished May with a .279 average after hitting .135 in April.
"I do think the last three-and-a-half weeks his swings have gotten better," Black said.
No mas: Pittsburgh's string of 10 consecutive quality starts came to a grinding halt Sunday when left-hander Jeff Locke was knocked around for seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in four innings. Coming into the game, the Pirates starters were 8-0 with a 2.06 ERA and 73 strikeouts in the last 10 games. The starters were all credited with the win in all eight victories. More >
"Oh, sure, this is disappointing. We've just been playing some very good baseball. Like we've talked about in the past, we just want to get the ball back to the top of the rotation again and let those guys do their thing. Obviously you don't want to be the guy who comes out and has a rough one. But at the end of the day we have another one tomorrow and an opportunity to start something." -- Locke on his outing
"I think we're playing pretty good baseball right now. The pitchers have been throwing the ball pretty well the last 10 days or so. We're starting to get that timely hit. Put that together and it can be pretty dangerous." -- Gyorko on the Padres' better play of late, as they finished May by winning five of their last eight gamesMore >
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Talk about doubling your fun. When Padres catcher Norris threw out Andrew McCutchen trying to steal second base in the first inning, he doubled his catcher caught stealing (CCS) total from a year ago (eight) with 16. And consider this: Going into 2015, Norris had thrown out 21 would-be basestealers in his career.
With two runs in the first inning Sunday, the Padres have now scored 38 runs in the opening inning this season -- the most in the National League.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: It's on to San Francisco, where the Bucs open a three-game series against the Giants on Monday at 10:15 pm ET in their only appearance at AT&T Park this season. Gerrit Cole (7-2, 2.11) makes his first start ever at AT&T against Giants veteran Ryan Vogelsong (4-2, 4.24), who won four of his five May starts after an awful April.
Padres: The Padres open a three-game series against the Mets at 7:10 p.m. PT on Monday. Andrew Cashner (2-7, 3.00) gets the start. He picked up his first victory since April 19 the last time out when he allowed three runs in seven innings against the Angels.