Baseball - Fri, Sep. 25, 2009
Gregerson's first save no act of piracy;Hundley plays key role as Padres knock off wild-card hopefuls 5-4By Bill CenterUnion-Tribune Staff Writer8:53 p.m. September 24, 2009
DENVER - It was probably not the way Luke Gregerson envisioned celebrating his first major league save.
As teammates offered congratulations, Gregerson was dressing himself as a "pirate hooker."
He was not alone.
Fourteen Padres rookies dressed in costumes in a ritual almost as much a part of baseball as Opening Day. Best of show: Luis Perdomo, who nailed his role as Tinkerbell.
"Too bad I left my high heels at home," said Gregerson, who worked the last 1 2/3 innings Thursday night because Heath Bell was unavailable after pitching four of the previous five days.
Gregerson closed out a 5-4 Padres win that was the epitome of what the past seven weeks have been for the Padres.
Down 3-0 in the first on Troy Tulowitzki's three-run homer off Clayton Richard, the Padres battled back to take a second straight game from National League wild-card leader Colorado.
They tied the game in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Everth Cabrera and a sacrifice fly by David Eckstein and took a two-run lead in the eighth on back-to-back run-scoring singles by Nick Hundley (who homered for the Padres' first run in the fifth) and Tony Gwynn.
For the second time in two weeks, the Padres defeated the Rockies 2-1 in a series - making San Diego 8-4 this month against the three National League West teams vying for playoff berths.
And they close the season with five games at home against the other two - the Dodgers and Giants.
"I'm very proud of the way these guys have played as a group," Padres manager Bud Black said after the Padres ran their record since July 28 to 33-21.
And that group isn't a complete group.
Bell and eighth-inning setup man Mike Adams were unavailable Thursday night because of their recent workload. And the offense was again missing Kevin Kouzmanoff, not to mention Kyle Blanks.
"I feel the younger service guys feel they now belong," Black said. "That's what's happened. They're not playing to stay here, they're playing to win."
Even when behind.
Thursday night marked only the 16th time this season that the Rockies lost after holding the lead.
And it wasn't just the Padres offense that rallied.
Richard held the Rockies scoreless over the last five innings he worked and the lone blemish against the bullpen was Ian Stewart's solo homer off Ryan Webb with one out in the eighth.
Both Richard (changeup) and Gregerson (fastball) caught the Rockies with a change in their normal repertoire.
"What I saw tonight from Clayton was an outstanding changeup," Black said. "The change became a weapon."
Then Gregerson supplemented his "wipeout" slider with a fastball that he threw three times past Jason Giambi. "I was getting outs on my fastball and Nick kept calling for it," said Gregerson, who admitted he had "a little extra adrenaline" flowing.
"It's not really any different than the seventh or the eighth."
Actually, it was.
"Luke won't care what he's wearing tonight," said Black of Gregerson's female pirate outfit.