Friars' fortified relief corps quickly stomps out threat

Friars' fortified relief corps quickly stomps out threat

MIAMI -- Before Saturday's 5-3 win over the Marlins, new Padres reliever Marc Rzepczynski lamented his struggles earlier this season with the Indians, the result, he said, of yielding too many first-pitch hits.

Not that the left-hander minds first-pitch contact -- just as long as it goes for outs and not hits.

On Saturday, in his first game with the Padres, Rzepczynski got two critical outs in the seventh inning by throwing just three pitches.

• Rzepczynski happy to be home in SoCal

It doesn't get much more efficient than that.

"[Just] trying to prove to a new team I could do my job," he said, still smiling after a long travel day that saw him fly from Oakland to Miami and then pitch.

The other three relievers who helped get the final nine outs of the game -- the ones who have been around longer than Rzepczynski -- were just as important in securing the win, the 12th in the last 16 games for the Padres.

Shawn Kelley got one out in the seventh inning after starter Odrisamer Despaigne allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach base, as the Padres held a 5-2 lead. Kelley got a long fly ball from Adeiny Hechavarria to Will Venable in center field for the first out.

"Venable made an unbelievable play on the ball in center field. That was underrated," said Padres interim manager Pat Murphy.

Rzepczynski, facing left-handed pinch-hitter Justin Bour, got him to bounce into a fielders' choice as a run scored. The next batter, speedy leadoff hitter Dee Gordon, bounced a ball up the middle that Rzepczynski leaped for, grabbing it and throwing to first for the final out of the inning.

"For me, if I don't get that ball that Gordon hit, it's a hit," Rzepczynski said. "I tried to jump and catch and get it over there [first base]. That's a key situation. Try to go out there, get my early contact and get my ground balls.

"That's what I try to do, get that early contact."

From there, Joaquin Benoit pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Craig Kimbrel -- one night removed from allowing a game-tying home run to Derek Dietrich with two outs in the ninth inning -- worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 31st save of the season.

Kimbrel seals the victory

On a short look, Rzepczynski came away impressed with the performance of the bullpen -- even on a night when one of the team's best relievers, Brandon Maurer, didn't pitch because of his heavy workload of late.

"I saw Joaquin pitch in Detroit for all those years and I saw Kimbrel pitch in Atlanta," Rzepczynski said. "It's fun to see those guys pitch and seeing what they do. You just try to get them the lead."

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