Hoffman rebounds, picks up save

Hoffman rebounds, picks up save

SAN DIEGO -- For the third time in as many days, a cluster of reporters huddled around Trevor Hoffman's locker, waiting for the Padres closer to appear from the training room.

"We're making a habit of this guys," Hoffman said as he smiled, although he was likely only half-kidding.

A night after allowing four runs with two outs in a loss to the Astros, Hoffman bounced back to work a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Thursday's 3-2 victory over the Astros at PETCO Park, giving him his second save in the last three days.

Of course, most of the questions Hoffman faced had more to do with Wednesday's lost opportunity than his latest outing against the Astros, though the Major League leader in career saves (526) knows the drill by know.

"It's not a secret recipe," Hoffman said when asked how he was able to rebound after a tough loss. "It's going out there, being aggressive and trusting your stuff."

Hoffman got three ground-ball outs on Thursday, retiring Ty Wigginton, Jose Cruz Jr. and J.R. Towles in order to close out the game and help the Padres to a 3-1 start to the season.

"Trevor threw the ball well, his fastball had good life, he had a good change and he kept his ball down," Padres manager Bud Black said after reiterating that he thinks Hoffman's stuff is better now than it was at this stage a year ago.

That's encouraging for Black and also Hoffman, who is pitching pain-free after having a minor elbow procedure in October to clean up some bone chips. He's healthy and his fastball has had good life in the strike zone and his changeup has been dancing.

Really, in Hoffman's eyes, it's like any other season, complete with ups and downs.

A year ago, Hoffman blew consecutive saves in late April -- a month that always seems to give him trouble -- before embarking on a blissful roll that saw him save 25 consecutive games before blowing a save in August.

"I would like to get on a roll," Hoffman said before heading to the showers, "and not talk to you guys for a while."

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