Loretta helps Padres break slide

Loretta helps Padres break slide

SAN DIEGO -- Before they even got on the scoreboard Monday night, the Padres got a glimpse of what Dave Roberts' speed can do.

By the end of their five-run rally in the seventh inning of a 7-2 victory over the Giants at PETCO Park, it was clear that Roberts and his healthy legs can help the Padres win ballgames.

With starter Jake Peavy (2-0) pitching another seven-inning gem, the Padres put a stop to their four-game losing streak and welcomed their leadoff hitter a couple of weeks later than they'd hoped but with good cheer.

Roberts had a bunt single that energized the Padres in the sixth and added an infield single on a chopper behind the mound that kept their seventh-inning rally going. After the dust had cleared, Roberts' long-awaited arrival was deemed a complete success.

"Even that infield hit he got there, that's huge," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "That kept the rally going and gave [Mark Loretta] a chance there. That's what speed will do for you."

Loretta delivered the big blow in the seventh with a bases-clearing double into the left-field corner one batter after Roberts' infield knock. Phil Nevin followed two batters later with a two-run double to right-center field that put the game out of reach.

But both guys with the big hits were pointing to the little guy for what he brought to the table.

"He disrupted them," said Loretta, the Padres' second baseman and No. 2 hitter. "He bunted. He beat a ball out. I remember playing defense against him, and it's not a real comfortable feeling because he can do a lot of things out there."

Roberts made his first impression on his new teammates when he went diving into first base to reach base on his bunt to the right side of the infield.

The dive into first base might have put some hearts in throats in the San Diego dugout, considering that Roberts had just returned from a groin injury that dated back to Spring Training. But the end result was a play they were pointing to afterward as a catalyst.

"That's just instinct," Roberts said. "I'm running down there trying to get there as quick as I can. That's a high-intensity play."

Roberts would get forced out, but the Padres wound up scoring their first run that inning. It came across when Nevin made a productive out with a grounder to the left side with runners on second and third and one out.

But Nevin points back to Roberts' play in that inning as the key.

"I think the biggest at-bat of that game was Dave leading off that inning like that," said Nevin. "We haven't had much excitement around here. For him to get the bunt down and after the head-first slide, he came up pumping his fist. That's the kind of stuff we haven't had that much of around here."

Roberts wasn't through bringing the excitement.

   Dave Roberts  /   LF
Born: 05/31/72
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 180 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

With two outs in the seventh and Ramon Hernandez on second base, the Padres got a key walk from pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney to bring Roberts to the plate. Roberts chopped a ball over the head of Giants starter Brett Tomko (0-3) and behind the mound, where nine-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel couldn't handle the ball in a rush to get Roberts at first.

"He just puts pressure on the defense," Nevin said. "If you're forcing one of the best shortstops in the game to come in and take on a tough hop like that, you know you're doing something."

After that, it was Loretta taking care of business to help the Padres rebound from the weekend sleep suffered at the hands of the Dodgers. The Padres needed a big hit, and the second baseman delivered with a drive off Tomko into the corner in left, scoring three runs. Roberts scored easily from first base with the third tally.

"We were looking for a big hit the last few days, and we got it there," Bochy said.

They got another one two batters later, after the Giants intentionally walked Brian Giles. This big blow came off the bat of Nevin, whose double to right-center was the type of hit that shows that his early struggles could be behind him, because that's where he drives the ball best.

"I honestly thought it was going to get caught, but the ball carried a little better than I thought," Nevin said. "It felt pretty good. I haven't driven a ball like that in quite a long time."

The rally made a winner out of Peavy (2-0), who allowed one run -- on Lance Niekro's first career homer -- as part of a seven-inning, six-hit outing. Peavy walked one and struck out nine.

"Peavy did a tremendous job," Bochy said. "That's what you need when you're in a skid."

And Peavy was glad to be part of ending the slide.

"We needed that one," Peavy said. "I knew I couldn't go out there and give up runs early."

John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.