Kotsay delivers pinch-hit homer to lift Padres

Kotsay delivers pinch-hit homer to lift Padres

Kotsay delivers pinch-hit homer to lift Padres
SAN DIEGO -- What may have appeared peculiar at first glance Tuesday, certainly made much more sense after Padres manager Bud Black explained the logic behind pinch-hitting for Chris Denorfia and his .327 batting average with a runner on first in the eighth inning of a scoreless game.

The pitcher on the mound for the Brewers, Francisco Rodriguez, was certainly one whom Black was familiar with, not just from his five previous seasons managing the Padres but when both were with the Angels -- Rodriguez as the closer and Black the pitching coach.

"I've seen Frankie Rodriguez too often to know his breaking ball is devastating to right-handed hitters," Black said. "At that point against Frankie, [Mark] Kotsay was a better matchup."

Not just a better matchup, but a better answer, as Kotsay's two-run home run off Rodriguez lifted the Padres to 2-0 victory over the Brewers in front of a crowd of 19,260 at Petco Park.

The decisive hit by Kotsay, a ball that just cleared the right-field wall, was his second in six days, as his two-run double on March 26 lifted the Padres (8-17) to a victory over the Nationals.

"It was a wall-scraper, I had my doubts off the bat," Kotsay said, smiling.

It was only a couple of days ago when Brewers manager Ron Roenicke called Kotsay the "best pinch-hitter he's ever seen." Kotsay played for the Brewers in 2011 and might have returned there had the Padres not signed him in November to come home, where he lives year-round.

"I certainly would have loved to have him back, but I understand when you play a long time and have a chance to be home," Roenicke said. "He's a good player. He's one of those rare guys who can hit with the game on the line against those top relievers."

That this game was still scoreless so late was a testament to the pitching of San Diego starter Edinson Volquez and his counterpart, Milwaukee's Shaun Marcum.

Volquez allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings with two walks and four strikeouts. He even managed to lower his ERA to 2.92 this season, though he remains winless.

"Another good outing tonight," he said. "Everything was working. They're [his teammates] going to get me a win. I'm not worried. But I'm going to get [reliever Andrew Cashner] .. he took my win again."

Just like he did in that April 26 game against the Nationals, Volquez pitched well -- one run over seven innings -- only to have Cashner (2-1) come in, pitch one inning and collect a victory.

"Another impressive three-pitch mix, he kept them off-balanced. The fastball had velocity and he had a good curveball, good changeup," Black said. "If we can limit the baserunners, he has a chance to have games like that tonight."

Volquez has worked closely with Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley on improving command, first by shortening his stride, aligning his left shoulder more with the plate, his foot position on the rubber and several other adjustments. Whatever they are, they appear to be working.

"Edinson has bought into a lot of Darren's teachings," Black said.

The Brewers (11-13) got plenty of mileage out of Marcum, who like Volquez didn't factor in the final decision. Marcum allowed three hits and had four walks and six strikeouts in seven innings.

"There's no doubt he's got a great knack of moving the ball around the strike zone," Black said. "He cuts it, he sinks it and he pitches with a great deal of confidence."

With Volquez and Marcum gone, the game was in the hands of the bullpens -- and in the hands of Kotsay, who came through with his first pinch-hit home run for the Padres since his prior stint with the team in 2002. Lifetime, Kotsay is a career .310 pinch-hitter with 44 hits.

"He's got a great head on his shoulders and has a great feel for this game," Black said. "He has hit his whole professional life. I've heard [Roenicke] say that about him. [Kotsay] has had a couple of big knocks that have won us games."

Huston Street pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his fourth save of the season. Rodriguez took the loss and is now 0-3.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.