Notes: Bowen making big splash

Notes: Bowen making big splash

SAN DIEGO -- Rob Bowen is giving "third catchers" a good name.

Bowen, who was claimed off waivers from Detroit at the beginning of April, has been quite a revelation to the Padres.

Before giving way to Mike Piazza on Monday, Bowen had scored a run in four straight games and five of his last six games. His first home run with the Padres on Saturday was the team's first walk-off home run of 2006 and gave streaking San Diego a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs.

The switch-hitting Bowen, who has played in 16 games this season, was batting .429 with six RBIs and a .714 slugging percentage and a .519 on-base percentage. Not bad for guy with a .238 career average in the Minors, who was billed as a solid defensive catcher with some pop.

"He's done a wonderful job," said Padres manager Bochy. "We didn't know a lot about Rob, except from scouting reports. He's done everything we've asked, he's done a tremendous job handing the pitchers. And his offense has been icing on the cake, the way he has come through and delivered with big hits.

"If we are to have a winning season, you need a surprise or two, and he's been one of them at this point for this ballclub," said Bochy.

Bochy acknowledges that having three catchers -- Piazza, Josh Bard and Bowen -- gives him some more managerial flexibility.

"Having three catchers in our situation at this point is important," said Bochy. "[Piazza] knows that with the lead in the sixth inning, he's probably going to come out. And that will allow me to rest him more, and it gives you a sense of security, knowing you have another catcher in case something happens or you have to make another move.

"Right now, it makes more sense to have three catchers, because it gives us that flexibility."

Bowen's journey to San Diego was far from direct. He began the season in the Twins organization before being claimed off waivers by the Tigers. Detroit then tried to slip Bowen through waivers, but the Padres snatched him up.

"It has been a wild ride," said Bowen. "I was expected to be put on waivers, but I had no clue where I'd end up. So it's been a little bit of adventure, but it's been a good experience, though."

The well-traveled Bowen likes what he sees from his PETCO Park mates.

"I've done whatever I can to help participate and add on to the team," he said. "This is a 25-man roster, and you're seeing, night after night, a different guy winning the game, contributing good pitching, good defense and good timely hitting. All 25 guys are participating right now, and that's what you need to win ballgames.

"I really didn't know what to expect, I wanted to be a backup somewhere in the Majors. I feel like I can be a decent backup at this point. I was hoping I would get an opportunity, and this situation worked out. We've got three catchers here, I've pinch-ran a couple of times, and we still have an extra catcher on the bench, which is so important, especially in the National League, where you do a lot of double-switching and pinch-hitting."

Bowen acknowledges that it takes a little time to get used to a new pitching staff.

"I put a lot of work in when I first got here by catching bullpens and going down between innings and catching guys who were going into the game," said Bowen. "The most important thing is always remembering the pitcher's weaknesses and strengths and go with what he likes to throw in that situation.

"Every pitcher has his own style, and you need to decipher that between each guy when you're out there, because not everybody is going to throw the same pitch."

As for his first walk-off homer, Bowen said, "That was a great thrill for me, being my first walk-off homer in any level."

Roberts to rest: Dave Roberts will get the day off on Wednesday and will be replaced in the lineup by Eric Young.

"I wanted to give Dave some time off, but he was swinging so well, I didn't want to take him out," said Bochy. "But he will be off on Wednesday, and Eric Young will play."

Roberts' single in the first on Tuesday brought his hitting streak to eight games. During the stretch, Roberts has three triples, a double, three RBIs and 10 runs scored. Roberts has also stolen five bases and leads the club with 10, which ranks him fourth in the National League.

Bochy's winning streak memories: Bochy waxed a bit nostalgic about the end of the Padres' longest winning streak, which was 14 games back in 1999.

"It was a makeup game we were playing in Colorado because of a snow out," recalled Bochy. "We were ahead in that game four runs, and that was the game we lost."

"In those winning streaks, you have a feeling that you can't do anything wrong. We were scoring runs in those games in 1999. It wasn't like there were games we squeaked by. I don't remember having many close calls in that streak."

Bochy also noted that he hoped that this season didn't end up like the 1999 season.

Despite the 14-game winning streak, that 1999 Padres team wound up 74-88.

In the two 11-game wining streaks the Padres had in 1998 and 1982, they finished the regular seasons 96-64 (1998) and 82-80 (1982). In 1978, when they had a 10-game winning streak, they were 84-78.

On deck: The Padres continue their three-game series with the Brewers at PETCO Park on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. PT and will send righty Chan Ho Park (1-1. 4.12 ERA) to the mound against southpaw Chris Capuano (4-2, 2.63 ERA).

Sandy Burgin is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.