SAN DIEGO -- Padres starter Drew Pomeranz -- who might be in the best form of his career right now -- didn't need much offensive support on Wednesday night. But the Friar hitters had some fun anyway, scoring eight times in the first four innings, en route to an 8-2 victory over the Pirates at Petco Park.
Pomeranz set a career high with 10 strikeouts and surrendered just four hits and an unearned run. Matt Kemp launched his fifth homer of the season -- a moonshot that caromed off the fence at the back of the Padres' bullpen. Derek Norris and Alexei Ramirez scored twice and added two hits apiece.
All eight runs were charged to Pirates starter Jeff Locke, who lasted only three-plus innings. He struggled from the outset, allowing 11 hits and four walks. Control has eluded Locke so far this season, as he allowed a career-high seven free passes his last time out.
"They're scoring. That's the most common theme to me," Locke said. "You're putting guys on with free passes, they're coming in to score. ... You've just got to be better than that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Seeing-eye rally: The Padres plated four runs in the second inning, the final three of which scored on singles that proved too tricky for Pirates infielders. Jemile Weeks' first at-bat of the season turned into a base hit that sneaked under the glove of third baseman David Freese. Jon Jay and Wil Myers would later record RBI infield hits in the frame.
"The best part of the game today, in my opinion, was that we battled and put balls in play, when before we were probably striking out in those at-bats," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Guys were getting bat on ball, extending innings that way, causing some havoc, some infield hits -- and probably some lucky hits. But that's what happens when you put the ball in play."
Slid too soon: The third inning got out of hand in a hurry for Locke, as Norris doubled with one out and Ramirez knocked a line drive to center field. The ball skipped past Andrew McCutchen's glove and kept rolling toward the wall, allowing Norris to score as Ramirez wheeled around to third base. Ramirez immediately came home on a single by Adam Rosales, who scored after a wild pitch and Pomeranz's single.
Robbery on the left-side: It wasn't all offense and pitching for the Padres on Wednesday night. Third baseman Adam Rosales made a brilliant diving stop and throw on a sharp grounder in the sixth.
Then, left fielder Melvin Upton Jr. one-upped Rosales in the ninth, leaping above the left-field wall to rob a Matt Joyce home run.
"For me, defense wins games," Green said. "Those plays, even if you hold on and win a game, but you don't make those plays, it impacts you for the next day. Keeping [setup man Brandon] Maurer and [closer Fernando] Rodney out of the game tonight was big." More >
Settle down: After Locke's rough start, the Pirates called on left-hander Kyle Lobstein. Lobstein delivered three effective and efficient innings, allowing one hit and striking out two batters. Lobstein's 42 pitches and A.J. Schugel's two perfect innings to end the game helped preserve the Bucs' overworked bullpen, which could pay dividends on this road trip.
"You can't ask for any more than what those two guys did -- saving some arms, saving some bullets," catcher Chris Stewart said. "They came in and did an outstanding job, coming in and attacking and putting guys away."
"I don't feel like we crushed [Locke] at the beginning of the game, by any stretch. We just did not give him an easy out. That goes a long way over the course of a game." -- Green
"We knew his go-to pitch was his curveball going into the game, but I think he would even tell you he had a really good feel for it tonight." -- Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer, on Pomeranz
"I threw a lot of them. I was attacking them with it early on. They kept missing it, so I just kept throwing it." -- Pomeranz, on his curveball
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Until last week, Pomeranz had only recorded eight strikeouts in a game once in his career -- in May 2014 against the White Sox. He's now recorded at least eight strikeouts in each of his last two starts.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: Right-hander Gerrit Cole (0-2, 4.22 ERA) will try to pick up his first win of the season, and avoid the Pirates' first sweep, when the Bucs return to Petco Park on Thursday night for a 9:10 p.m. ET finale. Cole is 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA in three career starts against San Diego.
Padres:James Shields (0-2, 4.05 ERA) gets the ball for the sweep-seeking Padres at 6:10 p.m. PT, eyeing his first win of the season. Shields has been solid for the most part, but he will be looking to limit the long ball. He's allowed four homers this year -- although all four have been solo shots.