SAN FRANCISCO -- The question has been asked before of Yorvit Torrealba, though he has yet to develop a response that comes remotely close to explaining why he has been so good at knocking in runners in scoring position. "Honestly, I don't know how to answer that," Torrealba said on Wednesday, leaning back in his clubhouse chair. "I know that I try to have the same approach every time. When I see a good pitch, I try to hit it. "It just seems like when no one is on, it doesn't work. When they are on base ... it does."
It did Wednesday, as Torrealba, the former Rockies catcher who used to torment the Padres and, likely, every other National League West team, knocked in two runs to lift San Diego to a 5-2 victory over the Giants before 30,924 at AT&T Park. For a team whose success is predicated on aggressive baserunning, defense and pitching, Torrealba has been a boon offensively in his first season with the Padres. And coming at a price tag of $1.25 million, he might be one of baseball's top free-agent bargains going. Torrealba is 10-for-18 this season with 12 RBIs with runners in scoring position and is hitting .309 overall. Better still, the Padres (21-12), who have the best record in the National League, are 11-4 when he starts behind the plate. "We've seen Yorvit be productive in Colorado, he knows this division, he knows a lot of pitchers and a lot of hitters," Padres manager Bud Black said. Torrealba's timely hitting helped the Padres to a 2 1/2-game lead over the Giants (18-14) heading into Thursday's series finale. Torrealba had RBI singles in the second and the sixth innings off Giants starter Matt Cain (2-2) to provide a spark to the offense. "They're playing better ball than us; there's no getting around it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're a better club than this. We're just making way too many mistakes." Starting pitcher Clayton Richard (2-2) held the Giants to two runs over seven innings and one of those runs came when he was called for a balk with a runner on third in the second inning. "I felt good, and got ahead for the most part," said Richard, who allowed seven singles in his seven innings with two walks and two strikeouts. Richard worked 1-2-3 innings in the first and third innings but was stressed in the second, when he allowed four hits and two runs -- the last coming on a balk call by home-plate umpire Gary Darling. "From my perspective, I see a guy with a very good move," Black said. The Giants loaded the bases in the sixth inning on two hits and a walk, but Richard, who at times had trouble throwing his breaking ball for strikes, got out of the inning when he got Nate Schierholtz to ground out up the middle to second baseman David Eckstein. When the Padres made it 5-2 with a run in the top of the seventh, the Giants went quietly in the bottom half of the inning, as Richard needed just six pitches to dispense of three hitters -- Andres Torres, pinch-hitter Ryan Rohlinger and Aaron Rowand. "If you think about it, one swing in that situation isn't going to get them back in the game. ... You can just pound the strike zone," Richard said. Aside from the RBI singles by Torrealba, the Padres got a run on a Richard sacrifice fly in the second inning, an RBI double by Jerry Hairston Jr. in the fourth inning and then a sacrifice fly by his brother, Scott Hairston, in the seventh inning. That was more than enough for Richard and relievers Mike Adams and Heath Bell, who worked the scoreless ninth inning for his 10th save of the season, capping another night in which the Padres dispensed of another one of the Giants' top starting pitchers. On Tuesday, the Padres handed Barry Zito his first loss, as the left-hander walked seven. Then, on Wednesday, Cain didn't look like the pitcher who entered the game with a 2.79 ERA as he walked six in 6 2/3 innings. The showdown between the top two teams in the NL West certainly hasn't been much of a showdown so far. The Padres are 5-0 against the Giants this season. "That's the kind of offense that's going to try to get the starter out of there. They're going to try to get to the bullpen early. They're going to try to get you to waste pitches, foul pitches off," Cain said. "So you have to keep the ball down and get them to put balls in play early [in the count]."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.