Late homers send Padres over Phils

Late homers send Padres over Phils

PHILADELPHIA -- Everything seems to be going right for the Padres these days.

After Milton Bradley homered to tie it in the eighth inning and Kevin Kouzmanoff led off the ninth with a homer, Terrmel Sledge's pinch-hit blast in the ninth proved to be the difference as the Padres edged the Phillies, 4-3, on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. Mike Cameron also hit a solo shot in the sixth.

Kouzmanoff, who had four hits on Friday, continued to stay hot as the Padres extended their National League Wild Card lead to four games over the Phillies and Braves.

"You don't see it every day, four homers for four runs," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I think it says something about our ability to homer."

And their ability to rally.

After Bradley homered off Phillies reliever Tom Gordon, he gestured to some Phils fans after rounding the bases. But Bradley said he wasn't trying to incite any type of reaction. He was just having fun.

"I'm not trying to disrespect anybody," Bradley said. "Let's get that very clear. You don't get a chance to come out on the East Coast too much, and it feels good to come out on my own."

The result was a victory, No. 70 on the season for the suddenly surging Padres.

"We're playing good baseball right now," Cameron said. "We're taking advantage of the situation at hand."

San Diego remained close throughout thanks to solid pitching from starter Clay Hensley and relievers Doug Brocail, Cla Meredith, Justin Hampson, Heath Bell and Trevor Hoffman, who closed out the victory with his 33rd save of the season and 515th of his career. Hensley lasted only 4 2/3 innings, yet he gave up just two earned runs on six hits.

"I ended up throwing a lot of pitches, more than I would have liked to," Hensley said. "The guys in the bullpen did a great job."

One of those runs Hensley surrendered came courtesy of Pat Burrell, who hit his 20th homer of the season in the first.

Trailing, 2-0, in the sixth, the Padres finally struck when Cameron laced a 1-2 pitch from starter Kyle Lohse out of the park for his 17th home run, cutting the lead to 2-1.

In the bottom of the sixth, the game became a bit heated when Brocail hit Carlos Ruiz on the knee, prompting home-plate umpire Laz Diaz to issue a warning to both benches. Lohse had thrown a pitch up and in to Bradley in the first inning.

The pitches were clearly a result of Friday's game, when Ruiz slid hard into Marcus Giles at second base, causing him to leave the game. Giles was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with a left knee sprain.

"That's baseball," Hensley said. "You've got to protect your teammates."

The Padres' newest teammate had quite an introduction with a hit in his first Major League at-bat. Craig Stansberry was recalled from Triple-A Portland and caught a flight at 6 a.m. PT in Seattle, with a connection in Denver, before arriving in Philadelphia just prior to the game.

In the seventh inning, on the first pitch he saw in the Majors, Stansberry ripped a single off J.C. Romero over second baseman Tadahito Iguchi's head into right field.

"Wasn't that great?" Black asked. "That's one of my favorite things to watch, a Major League debut."

Stansberry, the first Major League player born in Saudi Arabia, said he will keep the souvenir baseball.

"There was no reason for me not to be aggressive," Stansberry said. "I was looking for a good pitch to hit."

The Padres now have an impressive total of 72 hits in their past five games.

"We're on a roll right now," said Sledge. "It's a good time to get hot."

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