SAN DIEGO -- There hasn't been a statistic invented that Padres manager Bud Black has grown tiresome of or one he will not at least ponder for a moment before passing it off as numerical nonsense. In recent weeks, though, there's been one particular statistic that has been rolling around inside of Black's head, one equation that simply won't go away and one he can't escape. Going into Friday's game against the Cincinnati Reds, the Padres hadn't gotten a victory from a starting pitcher since April 16.
"I didn't really like that one," Black said. At least Black won't have that statistic to kick around anymore, as pitcher Kevin Correia won his first game since joining the Padres, working seven solid innings in a 5-3 victory over the Reds in front of 27,021 at PETCO Park. Correia allowed three runs on five hits and could have easily escaped with a much better line had right fielder Brian Giles not lost a fly ball in the stadium lights in the fifth inning that accounted for two Cincinnati runs. Correia credited pitching coach Darren Balsley for an adjustment to his delivery that, in effect, has his delivery more in control. Whereas Correia (1-3) had been buried early in games with high pitch counts, he was under control on Friday. "That resulted in a lower pitch count," said Correia, who threw 100 pitches in his seven innings. "I'm just staying within the delivery. It's not pitch stuff or command stuff. But it's allowing me to pound the strike zone more." It also gave the Padres (14-22) a chance to win as they broke through for three runs in the seventh inning against Reds starting pitcher Aaron Harang (3-4), who appeared to be in a cruise-control kind of groove entering the inning, having allowed two runs. But Harang allowed three hits in the frame, the last coming when he tried to run a fastball up and in on David Eckstein. Eckstein, already choking up, fisted the pitch into short right field, and the tying run scored. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker went to his bullpen for Arthur Rhodes to face Adrian Gonzalez, who hit a home run for the fifth consecutive game in the first inning. In that blissful span that dates back to Sunday in Houston, Gonzalez, has six home runs. The Padres' first baseman leads the Major Leagues with 15. Rhodes promptly walked Gonzalez on four pitches as he couldn't get the slugger to swing his way out of the strike zone. David Weathers then came into the game for the Reds (20-15). Weather gave up the go-ahead run when Scott Hairston singled to left. "We've got to get back to doing that," Eckstein said of the inning the Padres had in the seventh where they bunched together four hits and a walk for three runs. "It was a good team inning." One that certainly hasn't been seen often enough during a vexing stretch that saw these Padres drop 20 of their last 24 games entering Friday. But against the Reds, the team was rewarded for a strong performance by a starting pitcher and timely hitting late in the game, or the kind of elements that were prevalent in a 9-3 start. "That's what this team needs," Black said. The team, apparently, needed a bit of a face lift as well on Friday, as two relievers were jettisoned with two more, Greg Burke and Joe Thatcher, promoted from Triple-A Portland. The Padres also added shortstop Josh Wilson for depth at the position. Wilson appeared late in Friday's game. "If this doesn't get it done," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said before the game. "We're going to change the pieces." For Correia, a San Diego native, he actually felt like he had a breakthrough outing in his last start in Houston on May 9 when he allowed two runs over six innings. That was, he said afterward, the result of changes he and Balsley made to his delivery, which was, essentially, staying in more control during the delivery and not spinning out of it. "I like Kevin when his delivery is under control. The pitch quality was much better. Let's hope it's a lesson learned," Black said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.