- 142 wins
- 110 wins
BOSTON -- There was nothing to be nervous about, Chase Headley convinced himself as David Ortiz smashed a ground ball in his direction in the ninth inning Tuesday. A ground ball, he thought, is a ground ball.
Even if Headley was playing shortstop, not his customary third base.
Truth be told, Headley was only playing where a shortstop would play when he started a unconventional double play that proved to be a key moment as the Padres snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
"That was awesome," said Padres closer Heath Bell.
And slightly unusual, although the Padres (31-44) weren't about to question the details of their first victory in a while, as they entered Tuesday's game mired in a rut that saw them lose nine of their last 10 before a strong bullpen performance and an important at-bat by rookie Anthony Rizzo saved them.
Oh, and that quirky double play.
Bell, pitching for the first time in eight days, allowed a leadoff single to Kevin Youkilis, his fourth hit of the game, to start the ninth inning. Facing the dangerous Ortiz, Bell got the Red Sox's designated hitter to ground a ball at Headley, who had positioned himself about eight feet to the right of second base.
That left shortstop Jason Bartlett, about the same distance to the left of the bag with the second baseman, Orlando Hudson, essentially left to stand in the hole between first and second base.
"I was yelling at Chase to 'Turn it, turn it,'" Bell said. "He was only like four feet from the bag."
Headley handled the ball just fine, though, much to the chagrin of Bell, he flipped the ball to Bartlett instead of simply taking the ball to the base and then completing the play with a throw to first base.
"A nice little flip to the shortstop Bartlett," Padres manager Bud Black joked.
It was a good, and rare, day to laugh for the Padres, who entered the game having lost six of seven games on this road trip, including a 14-5 loss to the Red Sox (44-29) on Monday when their bullpen faltered badly, allowing 10 runs in the seventh inning alone.
Not Tuesday, though, as Chad Qualls (4-3), Mike Adams and Bell, who earned his 19th save, allowed two hits over the last three innings.
"Have you seen those guys' bullpen ERA? That explains it all," Ortiz said. "They have good pitchers and they make good pitches when they have to."
In what Black called a "gritty, gutsy performance," San Diego starter Mat Latos allowed four runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts. He tossed a career-high 120 pitches and was still holding his velocity late.
With an off-day Thursday as well as the possibility of pushing Latos back one more day beyond that, Black let him go.
"That's a good hitting ballclub, they took pitches -- good pitches -- and got me into deeper counts," Latos said. "Thankfully, I was able to make pitches and get outs."
Like with the bases loaded in the fourth inning and former Padre Adrian Gonzalez, who is leading the American League in average and RBIs, up to bat. Latos reached back and threw a 96-mph fastball on the outside corner that Gonzalez was caught looking at.
Gonzalez found himself in a prominent spot again in the seventh inning, only this time when he was playing defense.
In a tie game, the Padres loaded the bases against relievers Dan Wheeler (0-1) and Daniel Bard as Headley singled and moved to third base on a double by Jesus Guzman. The Red Sox then intentionally walked Hudson to get to Rizzo.
But not before the Red Sox brought in hard-throwing Bard, who threw a 99-mph fastball by Rizzo on his first pitch. Two pitches later, Rizzo snapped his bat with a grounder just to the right of Gonzalez, a two-time National League Gold Glove Award winner with San Diego.
Gonzalez got to the ball just fine and appeared to position himself to make a throw home to try and get the force on Headley, thus keeping the game tied. But the ball popped from Gonzalez's glove momentarily and by the time he recovered, his only play on Rizzo was at first base.
That allowed Headley time to cross the plate with the go-ahead run, a run the bullpen and the defense made stand the rest of the way.
Of the double play, Headley, who last played shortstop in high school, said he got a kick out of playing in that spot of the infield, even if it were only for a few fleeting moments.
"That was fun, because it's kind of a change from what you're doing," Headley remarked about the shift against Ortiz. "I wasn't all that nervous.
"Maybe I can be the emergency shortstop."