Solarte swats SD's HR streak to 19 games

Solarte swats SD's HR streak to 19 games

SAN DIEGO -- The power has come from everywhere during the Padres' franchise-record 19-game homer streak.

And during Thursday night's 6-5 loss to the Cardinals, it came from a familiar source in Yangervis Solarte.

It's not happenstance that the offensive surge has coincided with Solarte's return to full health. After spending a month on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, Solarte came back and had to deal with a bruised left thumb.

Given the recent results, it's clear he's put those ailments behind him.

"He's just consistently barreling the baseball," said manager Andy Green. "He handles velocity well. In today's game, you look for guys who can turn fastballs around. He turns fastballs around very, very well."

It was a 1-1 heater from Cardinals reliever Miguel Socolovich that Solarte deposited into the right-field seats in the eighth inning on Thursday night. That put the Padres on top, 5-1 -- a lead the bullpen would relinquish shortly thereafter, with St. Louis' Aledmys Diaz hitting a walk-off single in the ninth.

Solarte was the offensive star of the night for San Diego, finishing 3-for-4 with the homer and a double. With six dingers and eight doubles, he now leads the Major Leagues with 14 extra-base hits in July. (Teammate Ryan Schimpf is tied for second, with 12.)

"It's just hard work," Solarte said. "Just staying focused on what I need to do out there on the field."

No doubt, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp have done their part over the course of the Padres' home-run streak, but it's been Solarte and Schimpf leading the charge.

On Friday night the Padres will look to become the first National League team since the 2008 Brewers to homer in 20 straight games. Only the Red Sox, who reached 22 in May, have a longer streak this season.

"I have a lot of confidence in this team," Solarte said. "I know we have some power on this team. It's just been a little inconsistent, a little up and down. So hopefully, things can all come together at the right time."

Solarte was referring to the Padres' all-around inconsistency this season. When the pitching was sharp through April and May, the offense struggled. Now, it seems, the reverse is true. Only the Mets have hit more long balls than San Diego this month.

Of course, that's in large part thanks to Solarte, who has been wreaking havoc on opponents from both sides of the plate. He has an .982 OPS from the right side and an .859 mark -- with eight of his 10 home runs -- from the left.

"It's a bat that you can't match up against," Green said. "It's the one bat in the lineup that there's nobody in the bullpen that the matchup really favors, because he swings it so well from the left side and the right side. He's got pop from both sides. And he's driving it out of the ballpark."

On the whole, so are the Padres, in no small part thanks to their slugging third baseman.

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