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Geer does, says right things

Geer does, says right things

SAN DIEGO -- It's probably not scripted, but rookie Josh Geer certainly talks the part. He is just trying to give his team a chance to win, he explains, and he's eager to learn from his mistakes.

The problem is that the 25-year-old Geer, who made his fifth Major League start Friday, simply hasn't made many mistakes from which to learn during his month-long audition for a spot in the 2009 starting rotation.

In fact, about the only thing that has waylaid Geer is a slight elbow strain, which forced him from Friday's 6-3 loss to the Pirates at PETCO Park after a five-inning outing that saw him limit Pittsburgh to one run on three hits with no walks.

"He changed speeds well. He made the mistake to [Freddy] Sanchez, but after that, he hit his spots and kept the ball down and got some early-count outs," Padres manager Bud Black said of Geer.

Really, it's about the same things Black has been saying all month about Geer following each of his starts. Geer didn't allow more than two runs in any of his five starts with the Padres and his ERA for his time in San Diego is 2.67.

And he did it with a sore elbow that he first encountered during his last start in Colorado last week when he was "working on different sliders and grips."

Geer sought treatment during the week and felt good enough to start, though he did not throw a single slider in his pregame bullpen session and said he might have thrown two or three during his 63-pitch outing.

"Each inning, it felt a little worse and worse," Geer said. "I think it's just a little strain."

Geer said that he thought he would be fine in about two weeks, which, considering the regular season ends Sunday, won't be an issue as the right-hander heads into the offseason.

He'll do so knowing he made the best of his five starts and 27 innings after posting an 8-9 record and a 4.54 ERA in 166 2/3 innings this season with Triple-A Portland.

"I've felt comfortable playing in big league stadiums and giving my team a chance to win. Hopefully, I can come to Spring Training and compete for a spot in the rotation," Geer said.

The Padres will have two or possibly three openings in the rotation in 2009 after Jake Peavy and Chris Young. Cha Seung Baek has probably earned a spot. That means there are likely two spots up for grabs.

Mike Ekstrom, also a rookie pitcher, entered the game in the sixth inning after Geer had departed and allowed a walk, single and then a three-run home run to Ryan Doumit for a 4-1 lead.

The Padres (62-98) scored twice in the bottom of the inning on Luis Rodriguez's RBI single and Adrian Gonzalez's double-play grounder, but couldn't push ahead of the Pirates (66-94), who got an abbreviated start from their starting pitcher, Ian Snell.

Snell (7-12) opened the game by retiring the first 14 hitters he faced before rookie Nick Hundley turned on a pitch, sending it over the fence in left field for a solo home run in the fifth inning.

The Pirates scored two unearned runs off Clay Hensley in the ninth inning when usually reliable right fielder Brian Giles dropped a fly ball with two outs, which allowed two runs to score for a 6-3 Pittsburgh lead.

"Brian is as sure-handed as they come," Black said. "You see that once in a blue moon."

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

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