Friars feeling pain of injuries to Maurer, Kelley

Friars feeling pain of injuries to Maurer, Kelley

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

After some early-season struggles, the Padres' bullpen came together in June and July.

There were four pitchers to work the final three innings -- Shawn Kelley, Brandon Maurer, Joaquin Benoit and closer Craig Kimbrel. In June and July, that quartet had a collective ERA of 1.90 over 94 2/3 innings. Maurer had a 2.80 ERA in 25 2/3 innings. Benoit had a 1.75 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. Kelley had a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings. And Kimbrel had a 1.21 ERA in 22 1/3 innings and converted 18 of 19 save opportunities.

Those four had the back ends of games covered.

Then Maurer went on the disabled list on Aug. 11 with shoulder inflammation. He hasn't pitched since. And Kelley hasn't pitched since Sept. 1 with a nerve issue in his right forearm.

The losses of Maurer and Kelley has forced interim manager Pat Murphy to scramble to find relievers to work in front of Benoit and Kimbrel. The results have been spotty at best.

On Friday night, five relievers -- not named Benoit and Kimbrel -- gave up five runs on seven hits, including three home runs, in four innings.

After a solid first dozen appearances with the Padres, left-handed specialist Marc Rzepczynski has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 10 hits and a walk over three innings covering six appearances. Bud Norris has allowed five runs on six hits over his last 4 2/3 innings in seven appearances. Right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne has allowed runs in four straight appearances -- a total of 11 runs on 13 hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings.

Aside from Benoit and Kimbrel, the most successful Padres reliever recently has been right-hander Kevin Quackenbush, who has allowed one run on two hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 10 innings over eight appearances since Aug. 18.

Benoit and Kimbrel remain a potent 1-2 punch -- the Padres are 32-3 when they pitch in tandem this season -- at the end of games ... if the Padres can get to them.

From the scorecard

• The eight homers in Friday night's game -- five by the Dodgers and three by the Padres -- tied the record for the most homers in a game at Petco Park. It marked the fourth time in 12 seasons that there have been eight homers in a game.

Matt Kemp's two-run homer in the first Friday was his 18th of the season and the 200th of his career. In marked the Major League-leading 34th time this season that Kemp put the Padres ahead with a RBI. And it extended Kemp's streak of reaching base to a career-high 24 straight games -- the longest streak by a Padres player since Brian Giles reached base in 27 straight games during the 2008 season.

Jedd Gyorko's 12th homer of the season Friday extended his hitting streak to seven games (10-for-30) with two homers and seven RBIs. Gyorko has hit homers in back-to-back games for the fifth time in his career.

Brett Wallace homered as a pinch-hitter Friday night and now has hits in six straight pinch-hitting appearances. Wallace is 14-for-34 (.412) as a pinch-hitter this season with three home runs and 10 RBIs.

James Shields had a strange line Friday night, allowing three runs on only three hits in five innings. But he issued a career-high six walks and gave up his 27th and 28th homers of the season to move into a tie for second in the National League for the most homers allowed. Twenty-three of the 28 homers allowed by Shields this season have been solo shots.