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San Diego Padres halt five-game slide with 6-3 win over Kansas City Royals

By Bill Center, The Sports Xchange
San Diego Padres halt five-game slide with 6-3 win over Kansas City Royals
Jhoulys Chacin pitched seven innings, giving up just three hits in the Padres' 6-3 victory over the Royals. Photo courtesy San Diego Padres/Twitter

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Szczur said he was thinking of Jhoulys Chacin in the bottom of the seventh at Petco Park on Friday night as he was preparing to pinch-hit for the San Diego Padres' starting pitcher.

"Chacin pitched a great game," said Szczur. "I wanted to pick him up."

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Szczur led off the bottom of the seventh with a pinch-hit home run off left-handed reliever Matt Strahm (1-3) to break a tie and lead the Padres to a 6-3 win over the Kansas City Royals in an interleague game.

"That was pretty cool," said Szczur. "That picked up him, it picked the team up, it picked me up. I've been grinding lately."

Szczur was hitless in his last 15 at-bats when he drove a 2-and-1 fastball from Strahm 385 feet into the left field stands for his second homer as a Padre.

The outfielder was at it again in the ninth, doubling in the middle of a three-run rally against former Padres reliever Chris Young that expanded the lead to 6-2.

But nothing comes easy for San Diego these days. The Royals loaded the bases with no one out in the ninth and scored one run on a sacrifice fly before closer Brandon Maurer got Alcides Escobar to ground into a game-ending double play.

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Szczur's heroics helped the Padres snap a five-game Padres' losing streak and made a winner of right-hander Chacin (5-5).

Chacin allowed only three hits and two walks with six strikeouts over seven innings, although one of the hits was a two-run, game-tying homer by catcher Salvador Perez in the fifth. Chacin took a no-hitter into the fifth when Eric Hosmer opened with a single followed by Perez's 12th homer.

"My slider was good today," said Chacin, who further widened his home-road splits. "I could see the slider was working in the first inning. I wanted to go deep into the game tonight. On Perez, I was trying to go in on him and he's a good hitter."

Chacin is 3-1 at Petco Park this season with a 1.58 earned-run average in six starts. He is 2-4 on the road with a 10.27 ERA in seven starts.

"It was his really good slider tonight," said Royals manager Ned Yost of Chacin.

The Padres scored single runs in each the first and second but squandered opportunities for more -- and it came back to bite them.

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Jose Pirela opened the game with single, but was immediately erased on a double play. Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges followed with consecutive sharp singles off left-handed starter Eric Skoglund to give the Padres a 1-0 lead.

Cory Spangenberg opened the second with a single, but was picked off first. Erick Aybar and Chacin followed with back-to-back doubles to make it 2-1.

After Skoglund walked Pirela and Yangervis Solarte, he was removed from the game in favor of left-handed reliever Scott Alexander, whose second pitch with the bases loaded bounced away from Perez. But the catcher recovered and caught Chacin off third. Myers then struck out.

Nine of the 11 Padres facing Skoglund reached base and the seven hits included a pair of doubles. But there was a double play in the four-hit first and two runners were caught off base in the second.

"My pitches were in the middle and they were able to square some balls up and that was about it," said Skoglund. "I wasn't getting ahead and that's the bread-and-butter right there."

"They were just on him," Yost said of Skoglund. "They were just having good swings on him. Mostly it was pitch location. They were kind of diving out on him and getting good pitches to hit."

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Chacin allowed only a walk through the first four innings thanks to a couple defensive gems by Aybar at short. But Hosmer grounded a single to right past the dive of second baseman Solarte to open the fifth and Perez drove Chacin's next pitch 394 feet into the second deck in left for the game-tying homer.

The Padres were leading 3-2 when they added three runs in the eighth against Young.

Aybar singled with two out and advanced to third on Szczur's double to left-center. Pinch-hitter Franchy Cordero followed with a two-run double and scored when Solarte's fly to right fell between Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield and right fielder Jorge Bonifacio for a single.

"Szczur and Cordero coming through as pinch-hitters was huge for us," said Padres manager Andy Green.

The Royals loaded the bases on three straight singles by Lorenzo Cain, Hosmer and Perez with none out in the ninth, but scored only one run on Mike Moustakas' sacrifice fly just ahead of the game-ending double play.

NOTES: The Padres optioned struggling 3B Ryan Schimpf to Triple-A El Paso and recalled RHP Jose Valdez from the Chihuahuas. Schimpf led the Padres with 14 homers but was hitting .158 with a .284 on-base percentage and 70 strikeouts in 165 at-bats. He was hitless in his last 10 at-bats with eight strikeouts. Valdez pitched three scoreless innings in his one appearance with the Padres earlier this season. ... Salvador Perez's two-run homer in the fifth inning was the 94th of his career, setting a record for Royals catchers. ... Friday night was the first of five straight interleague games for the Royals at National League West teams. They play two at San Francisco next Tuesday and Wednesday.

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