Judging from his first game in Petco Park, the Padres' faithful will likewise enjoy having Solarte in San Diego, too.
Solarte scored the go-ahead run, homered and made a key defensive play to lead the Padres past the Cardinals, 3-1, as San Diego (47-59) snapped a three-game losing streak with plenty of help from their newest acquisition.
With the score knotted at one in the fifth inning, St. Louis (56-49) looked poised to take the lead with Matt Holliday, the team's RBI leader, up at the dish and Matt Carpenter on third base with one out. But Holliday chopped a grounder to Solarte, who quickly threw home to nab Carpenter and leave the Cardinals wanting in what would be their last, best opportunity to get in front.
"He goes, I have to throw to home plate there," Solarte said. "Tie game, you have to make the play."
Crew chief and second-base umpire Brian Gorman initiated a review of the play to determine if Rivera had illegally blocked the plate while trying to tag Carpenter, but the call was confirmed upon replay and Tyson Ross eventually escaped the inning without further damage.
"Rene did a nice job of giving Carpenter a lane to slide before the throw took him up the line a little bit," said Padres manager Bud Black. "The Cardinals play aggressive on the bases, we got a good break. It was a little bit of a chopper. We had to execute it and we did."
Ross (10-10) didn't have his best control early on, issuing five walks in the first three frames after he had issued five walks in his previous 35 innings.
"I just didn't have my fastball command tonight," Ross said. "It was a battle out there, but Rene did a great job of keeping things under control and the defense picked me up."
But a double play and three strikeouts helped him escape those early jams, and despite giving up a sacrifice fly to Kolten Wong in the fifth that tied the game, he ended up winning his third straight start for the first time in his career after his counterpart similarly struggled with control in the sixth.
Lance Lynn (11-8) walked Solarte and Seth Smith on nine total pitches to start the inning, and two outs later, Jedd Gyorko stroked an RBI single to give the Padres a 2-1 lead.
"It got in on him a little bit, but he hit it to the right part of the park," Black said. "That was good. His swings were a little bit better, I know he commented that he feels a little bit better."
Solarte added insurance in the seventh with his line-drive blast off Jason Motte that cleared the short porch in the right-field corner. Solarte's quick hands came in handy there, as Motte tried to sneak a full-count fastball by him on the inside corner.
"All game, they throw outside, outside, outside," Solarte said. "[I] got it to 3-2. I was thinking he goes inside, he won't let me try to hit the ball in the middle. And that happened. I stayed short, hit the ball."
Blaine Boyer, Kevin Quackenbush and Joaquin Benoit each pitched a scoreless inning of relief to close it out for the Friars.
Ross gave up just four hits and one run in six innings, with five walks and seven strikeouts. The All-Star has now logged eight consecutive games of at least six innings and two or fewer earned runs, the longest active streak in the National League. He'll finish July with a 1.10 ERA (5 ER, 41 IP) in six starts, the second-best mark in the NL.
"He's been so good, especially this month, so when something like this happens with the five walks, it's a little bit exasperating," Black said. "But he did right the ship."
Will Venable had a miserable night at the plate, striking out twice and fouling out on an attempted bunt with two men on and none out in the sixth with the game tied. A chorus of boos followed Venable to the dugout, as fans sensed the Padres might waste a golden opportunity to score and take the lead, as they have so many times this season.
But Gyorko's clutch hit later that inning absolved Venable and the Padres from another painful loss, instead providing an inspiring win for the 33,521 fans in their first live viewing of San Diego's new-look infield.