Gonzalez had started to feel strong at the plate over the weekend, when the Dodgers swept the Padres in a three-game series at PETCO Park. He took 0-for-4 performances in the final two games of that series, but he knew he was coming around.
"Those last couple at-bats, I kept telling my wife, I was like, 'It's close, within a couple days,'" Gonzalez said. "I kept telling her, 'By the time I get to Seattle, I think I'm going to be swinging the bat pretty good.'"
Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with a walk on Wednesday, tying the game at 3 in the second with a two-run single then blasting a three-run homer into the right-center-field bleachers in the Padres' go-ahead, five-run fourth inning.
The two-run single came against Dodgers starter Ramon Ortiz, against whom Gonzalez had six hits in nine at-bats previously.
"I struggle with guys that have big differential in speeds, and his speed differential from his fastball to his offspeed pitches are pretty close," Gonzalez said. "So that makes it easy as far as timing to just get it ready, recognize then take your swing. You don't have to worry about a fastball at 90, a changeup at 75. He's a guy that because he doesn't have that big differential -- I shouldn't say it's easy, but it's more comfortable."
Venable, 4-for-5 with a triple and double in his first two at-bats, put the Padres ahead, 4-3, with an RBI single in the fourth inning. After a David Eckstein single, Gonzalez took the ninth pitch he saw from reliever Ramon Troncoso out to right-center, Gonzalez's ninth of the year. Chase Headley followed with his third home run of the year two pitches later.
Twelve times in his career, Gonzalez had driven in four runs in a game, but never more -- a fact that surprised manager Bud Black.
"Is that right?" Black said. "I think you saw a snippet of what he can do."
"He had a little lull there for a minute, but no secret he's our guy," Venable said of Gonzalez.
Venable, who also stole his team-leading 11th base on Wednesday, was in a 3-for-21 slump entering the game and hadn't batted leadoff all season. Needing a home run for the first cycle in club history by his fourth at-bat, Venable finished the night with a double in the fifth, a strikeout in the seventh and a full-count walk in the ninth inning against George Sherrill.
"It didn't happen, but I was able to do my job and get on base," said Venable, who crossed the plate four times, the last in a two-run ninth inning.
Winning pitcher Jon Garland (5-2) said he didn't have much regard for the fact that he was returning to Dodger Stadium and labored through a season-high 117 pitches, 75 for strikes. Through the first two innings, after which the Dodgers led, 3-1, he had thrown 56 pitches.
"They're definitely a hot team right now. You can tell by their at-bats; they're sitting on really good pitches, they're fouling off pitchers' pitches," Garland said. "They're a tough team right now. It was a grind. I don't think they swung and missed one time. Pretty wild."