Rea stays in zone in efficient outing vs. Phils

Right-hander displays strong fastball command over 7 solid frames

Rea stays in zone in efficient outing vs. Phils

PHILADELPHIA -- When Padres starter Colin Rea is struggling, efficiency is nowhere to be found. The right-hander can have a tendency to be too fine, living off the corners and falling behind in counts. It got him into a world of trouble in his start Friday in Colorado.

But during Wednesday night's 2-1 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, a different version of Rea was on the mound -- the version that attacks to much success, and the version the Padres would like to see more of going forward.

Rea -- the club's No. 6 prospect, who earned a rotation spot out of camp -- threw only four more pitches in Philadelphia than he did last Friday. Only this time, Rea lasted seven innings -- compared with just 3 1/3 at Coors Field.

"Fastball command was a lot better today, and even when we would go breaking ball early in the count, I was able to drop it in for a strike," said Rea, who threw 62 of his 94 pitches for strikes. "That definitely helps [with efficiency]."

Rea said he made two mistakes, both to Phillies No. 3 hitter Maikel Franco. The first, in the first inning, was supposed to be a changeup in the dirt, but instead ended up in the left-field seats. The second resulted in a third-inning RBI double, which plated an unearned run and proved to be the difference in the game.

Franco's RBI double

"Other than that, he was just fantastic tonight," catcher Christian Bethancourt said. "He was mixing everything -- cutters, curveballs, fastballs, two-seamers. Everything was down in the strikezone, and he was locating very well."

After Franco's third-inning double, Rea did not surrender another hit. He tied a career high with seven innings and allowed five hits, while striking out five and walking two.

"He attacked much better today, had a good mix," manager Andy Green said. "More than anything, Colin gave himself a chance to win a baseball game. He gave us seven strong innings, and it seemed like he got stronger as the game went on."

In Green's eyes, Rea only really made one mistake on the night -- and it wasn't the home run to Franco. It was their second showdown, when Rea opted to challenge Franco with a grooved first-pitch fastball, instead of working around him with a base open.

Ironically, it represented one of the few times the Padres would actually have preferred that Rea nibble at the corners. And Rea acknowledged that much, saying, "That's one of those at-bats where I can be a little more fine than aggressive."

On the whole, however, Rea certainly made a case to keep his rotation spot when Tyson Ross and/or Brandon Morrow return from injury, potentially by the end of this month. Rea was simply beaten by a better effort from Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff (seven shutout innings and nine strikeouts).

"I definitely felt good tonight," Rea said. "We were aggressive early and we were able to get ahead, and even when we weren't ahead, we were able to make good pitches.

"But it stings a little bit. He outpitched me tonight. Unfortunately, I made a few mistakes, and they took advantage of it."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.