Padres can't catch break after hits slow to come

Padres can't catch break after hits slow to come

Padres can't catch break after hits slow to come
OAKLAND -- The best swing that Yonder Alonso put on a ball Saturday wasn't the one that resulted in an opposite-field double in the seventh inning, an extra-base hit that helped to set up a big inning on a day where hits proved slow to come.

No, the best swing from the Padres first baseman came one inning later and after the A's had rallied for a 6-4 lead that would eventually stand up before a crowd of 17,135, many of whom probably thought a would-be no-hitter might end up in a loss.

With one out and Carlos Quentin on third base after Mark Kotsay singled, the left-handed hitting Alonso laid into a Grant Balfour curveball, staying back to put some serious thunder behind it. He got all of it, too, though it didn't find the outfield grass or the cheap seats in right field.

Instead, it stuck right in the middle of first baseman Brandon Moss' glove, though the force from the ball actually caused Moss to roll backwards. He quickly gathered himself and then stepped on the bag for an inning-ending double play.

"It happened so fast ... it was almost like the ball caught him," said Padres first base coach Dave Roberts, who was standing a few feet away.

Alonso, who said the play was over by the time the follow-through of his swing was done, stood in the batter's box in disbelief.

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"That put him [Moss] on the floor," Alonso said.

That was one of what probably felt like a handful of knockout blows for the Padres (23-43), who had no hits to show for most of the day against A's pitcher Tyson Ross, who used a big slider as well as a sneaky fastball to tie the Padres' hitters in knots.

Ross, the older brother of the Padres' 2011 first-round Draft pick, pitcher Joe Ross, got the first two outs of the sixth inning before walking Chase Headley, one of four walks Ross would issue. Quentin then ended the no-hit bid and shutout with one swing, sending a slider directly into the wind to clear the left-field fence as the Padres cut the lead to 3-2.

"Carlos, again, came up big for us," Padres manager Bud Black said of Quentin, who has six home runs in 15 games. "That's what he does."

For not having a hit for so long, the Padres actually took a 4-3 lead in that seventh inning, when, after a double by Alonso, Will Venable lined a two-out, two-run double over the head of A's right fielder Collin Cowgill. That the left-handed Venable did so against lefty reliever Sean Doolittle was notable to Black.

"That gave us some momentum," Black said. "Will squared it up."

Only the lead didn't last long, as the A's (31-35) scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh as Black went through three relievers -- Alex Hinshaw, Joe Thatcher (0-2) and finally Luke Gregerson, who threw a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score before yielding a two-run, pinch-hit home run to Jonny Gomes that put the A's on top for good.

"It's a sign of a team that's pretty confident in what they're doing," said A's manager Bob Melvin of a team that has won its past five games. "The way we've been swinging the bats, I don't think anybody thought it was over once we got down."

The A's weren't down long on Saturday, after they bolted to a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning against San Diego pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, the 12th starter the Padres have used in their first 66 games.

Ohlendorf didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning when he surrendered a home run to Seth Smith and later an RBI single with two outs to Cowgill. Ohlendorf allowed the three runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings with two walks and three strikeouts.

"I think later in the game, I was missing more in the middle of the plate," Ohlendorf said.

As for Ross, he was rolling right along even though he walked three over the first five innings before issuing the walk to Headley in the sixth that set up Quentin's home run.

"We saw a lot of fastballs early but as the game progressed, he got underneath us with a lot of sliders," Black said. "He's a tall guy [6-foot-6] with good depth to his slider. You saw our guys swing over top of it."

Yet for all of that, the Padres still had a chance to win. They were nine outs away, nine long outs away from doing so, but the bullpen faltered in the seventh. Then, in the eighth inning, with two runners on, Alonso saw his best swing of the day result in misery instead of merriment.

"We're coming back. It's first and third and I was just trying to hit the ball hard," Alonso said after the game. "The next thing I know, it's a double play. But it seems like that's how it's been for us."

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