Yates perfect bridge from Richard to Hand

Battle with LeMahieu the best part of Padres' 3-0 win

Yates perfect bridge from Richard to Hand

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

Clayton Richard had a memorable start and Brad Hand tied a couple marks while picking up the save Thursday night in the Padres 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park.

But the single at-bat I'll remember most was Kirby Yates 12-pitch battle with DJ LeMahieu in the eighth inning.

Yates had just entered the game in relief of Richard with two on and one out with LeMahieu coming to the plate representing the tying run.

Yates and LeMahieu had squared off four previous times and the Rockies' second baseman was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against Yates.

But this time, LeMahieu jumped ahead in the count as Yates missed the strike zone with his first two pitches. The Padre battled back. Then LeMahieu fouled off six two-strike pitches.

On the 12th pitch, Yates got LeMahieu to miss on a four-seam fastball. He then retired National League RBI leader Nolan Arenado to finish his work as the perfect bridge from Richards to Hand.

Now, about Richard and Hand.

Richard, who received a two-year extension Wednesday, allowed seven hits and a walk in 7 1/3 scoreless innings Thursday night. With the help of three double plays - he leads the National League with 32 induced -- Richard had 12 ground-ball outs, eight strikeouts and two flyouts.

Richard has worked shutout ball in two of his last three outings and three of the last seven dating back to his complete-game, three-hit shutout of Philadelphia on August 16. Over his last three starts, Richard has allowed four runs on 19 hits and five walks with 16 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings -- an earned run average of 1.86.

Hand then struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save of the season.

The three strikeouts gave Hand 100 strikeouts for the season, making him only the second reliever in Padres history - Trevor Hoffman was the first (1996-97) - to have 100 or more strikeouts in back-to-back seasons.

The save was also Hand's 20th of the season, tying him for the season lead with since-traded Brandon Maurer. Hand has done it in 21 opportunities with all but two of the saves coming since July 23. Maurer had three blown saves.

NOTE WORTHY

• 3B Christian Villanueva is 4-for-12 with home runs in his last two games with the Padres. During the season with Triple-A El Paso, the corner infielder was the Chihuahuas' steadiest player, batting .296 with 20 homers and 86 RBIs. Villanueva was once the top third base prospect in the Cubs' system until Kris Bryant came along.

• CF Manuel Margot is 7-for-14 with three walks, two doubles, three stolen bases and three runs scored in a four-game hitting streak.

• 1B Wil Myers has drawn seven walks in his last five games while going 3-for-12 with two doubles. That is a .526 on-base percentage.

• RF Hunter Renfroe is 4-for-14 with four homers and eight RBIs in his four starts since returning from Triple-A El Paso.