SAN DIEGO (AP) — A handful of San Diego regulars still aren’t hitting their weight, and the Padres had only six hits against Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
That would normally have the Padres heading for a loss, especially at Petco Park.
Thanks, though, to big right-hander Tyson Ross and some timely hitting, the Padres beat the Tigers 5-1 to take two of three for their first series win this season.
Ross outdueled Scherzer, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, and Jedd Gyorko and Xavier Nady homered.
“It was a big day for us,” said Will Venable, who hit a two-run double after Scherzer walked two batters to open the fourth. “Not necessarily because of the Tigers, but because we got the series win.”
The Padres had lost two of three in each of their first three series.
So taking two of three from the Tigers “means a lot, obviously,” Nady said.
“That’s an unbelievable organization and an unbelievable team. When you’re struggling and you can take two out of three against a team like that, it shows what’s in this ballclub, and the fight. We obviously didn’t come out of the gate playing well. The pitching has done a tremendous job and now it’s our turn on the offensive side to get some guys going and hopefully get some runs early and get big hits and start playing well,” he said.
After two shaky opening starts, Ross (1-2) struck out seven and held the Tigers to one run and six hits in seven innings. He walked one.
Ross said he made an adjustment in his delivery since his last start. He even had an RBI single against Scherzer.
But he didn’t take it as a bigger challenge than normal.
“The only one I really had was worrying about hitting against him,” Ross said. “I’ve seen him on TV and knew he was going to be a tough one live. Other than that I’m facing the Tigers, not necessarily just Max.”
Scherzer (0-1) allowed four runs and four hits in five innings, struck out 10 and walked three. The Tigers have scored three runs for Scherzer in his three starts.
He called his day’s work “Inefficient. I just didn’t feel like I was efficient out there but I’ve got to give them credit. I’m not going to ignore what they did. They battled me and they made me work. I also felt like I didn’t consistently pound the strike zone the way I’m accustomed to. I fell behind too many guys. I let them get too many hitters counts for them to capitalize on.”
The Tigers have lost four of six under rookie manager Brad Ausmus, who was working in the Padres’ front office when Detroit hired him in November.
Gyorko homered to left on a 3-1 fastball from Scherzer leading off the second, his first.
“It was good to get into a hitter’s count,” said Gyorko, who also made some nice plays at second base. “It was good to get us started. Especially the way Tyson was throwing, we knew we didn’t need to get many. Just try to get that first run on the board and let him kind of go to work.”
Gyorko and Venable are hitting just .163 while Chase Headley is hitting .186.
“Hopefully it’s the start of something. It just takes one swing to kind of get you started sometimes,” Gyorko said. “Our at-bats as a team have gotten better as the season has gone on, so hopefully we can keep it going.”
The Tigers tied it in the fourth, when Torii Hunter hit a leadoff double and scored on Victor Martinez’s one-out single.
Scherzer faltered by walking Chase Headley and Yonder Alonso to open the fourth and the Padres jumped on him for a 4-1 lead. Venable doubled down the right-field line to bring in Headley and Alonso, and Ross singled to left to bring in Venable.
“Leadoff walks kill you,” Scherzer said, “especially if you do it twice. That’s a recipe for disaster. That was the difference in the game. I have to attack the zone early in the count.”
Nady, 35, hit an opposite-field pinch homer off Ian Krol an estimated 422 feet into the sandy play area beyond the fence in right-center leading off the seventh. Dating to 2012, his last three big league hits have been home runs. He homered Tuesday at Cleveland. Before that, his last homer was on Sept. 30, 2012, while with San Francisco, at Petco Park against Padres closer Huston Street.
NOTES: It was Nady’s seventh career pinch homer. … Padres manager Bud Black said there’s a “probability” LF Carlos Quentin will take batting practice on the field before Monday’s game against Colorado. Quentin opened the season on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his left knee. … The Tigers are off Monday before opening a homestand Tuesday night, with RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 3.00) scheduled to start against Zach McAllister (1-0, 2.31) of the Indians. The Padres continue their 10-game homestand with the opener of a four-game series against Colorado. LHP Eric Stults (0-2, 5.59) is scheduled to start against RHP Jordan Lyles (2-0, 3.86).