SAN DIEGO -- Entering Friday's game against the Blue Jays, Padres starting pitchers had gone six or more innings in six of the team's last seven games.
This is something Padres manager Bud Black could get used to, especially after a rough start to the season, when brief outings by starting pitchers were commonplace.
"We've had a couple of lengthy starts lately to freshen our 'pen," Black said.
A bunch of them, as it turns out.
The Padres squeezed six or more innings from their starting pitchers May 24-25 and then from May 27-30. All told, the Padres have done this 18 times in May after just 10 occasions in April.
Black would like to see it done more moving forward, especially with 17 games in June against teams from the National League West.
"If you look at the real big picture, it's not been what you want overall," Black said of the durability -- or the lack thereof -- of the starting staff.
In May, the Padres have had starting pitchers get outs in the seventh inning in 11 of those 18 starts that have exceeded six innings.
That is a big reason why the team took a 14-13 May record into Friday's game against the Blue Jays, the final game of the month.
"Usually when they give you length, that means they're pitching well to give you length," Black said, adding that durability is "what you want and what you strive for. For the job description, it's line one. That one of the things we talk about in Spring Training ... the responsibility of that."
The workload on the bullpen has been reduced because of the longer starts. In April, they ranked eighth in the big leagues in innings by relievers (93 2/3 innings). In May, they dropped to 13th (84).
"We got off to a rough start, and it was not only not giving up runs, it was not giving us innings, not going deep into the games," Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley said. "That was really taxing on the bullpen and taxing on our offense, too. You fall behind by a big margin in the big leagues early, you don't have too much of a chance. Not saying you can't come back, but it's difficult to."
Alonso exits game after being hit by pitch
SAN DIEGO -- First baseman Yonder Alonso left Friday's game against the Blue Jays with a right hand contusion after being hit by a pitch, Padres officials said, adding that X-rays were negative and Alonso would be re-evaluated Saturday.
"A little banged up right now, but it's getting better as it goes," said Alonso, who acknowledged that he was having trouble gripping the bat after he was hit. "I think I'll be all right. Nothing severe, nothing bad, not broken or anything. Just day to day, I guess."
Alonso was struck by a fastball from Blue Jays reliever Adam Loup to start the seventh inning. He winced in pain and was visited by the training staff before staying in the game.
Alonso played defense in the eighth inning but was eventually replaced by Kyle Blanks at first base in the eighth. The left-handed hitting Alonso throws with his right hand.
Alonso was 1-for-2 in the game, raising his average to .284, before he left. Alonso made a big play while on defense in the sixth inning, starting a 3-2-3 double play with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Gyorko's defense quietly parallels big month at plate
SAN DIEGO -- Rookie second baseman Jedd Gyorko put the finishing touches on a big May on Friday, a month that saw him hit all six of his home runs with an average that was 46 points higher than April's.
But while Gyorko has been lauded for his bat in May, he has also quietly had a solid month defensively -- all while playing a position that still rates as relatively new to him.
Gyorko has made three errors this season, but just one since April 12. He has impressed his manager and third-base coach Glenn Hoffman, who works with the infielders.
"He reads the ball off the bat really well, and he's got very good hands," Hoffman said. "That helps him tremendously in the middle part of the field. He's got good body balance, so when he has to go on the ground for the ball, he's got such a good feel that he can make an accurate throw from his knees."
Gyorko, a third baseman by trade who started playing second base last season in the Minor Leagues, worked close in Spring Training with Double-A San Antonio manager Rich Dauer, who was considered one of the top defensive second basemen in the game when he played for the Orioles.
Gyorko looks more comfortable alongside shortstop Everth Cabrera with each passing game.
"He's improved a lot around the bag," Hoffman said. "Earlier in the year, Cabby threw a bullet to him at second base, and he handled it. That caught my eye. That showed me the quickness that he would have. Working together, they're only going to get better."
Homers allowed vs. M's echo trend in '13
SAN DIEGO -- After giving up five home runs to the Mariners on Thursday, the Padres' pitching staff has allowed 63 home runs through the first 53 games. That is the second-highest total in the National League.
The Brewers have allowed 68 home runs in one fewer game.
"I just think it's a matter of guys squaring up poorly executed pitches at times," Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley said.
Those five home runs tied for the most in one game by an opponent at Petco Park (July 14, 2006, vs. Atlanta).
The longballs are coming at a higher rate than in recent memory. Through the same number of games in 2012, the Padres had allowed 48 home runs; in 2011 that number was 38, and in 2010 it was 41.
The Padres have allowed 33 of those home runs in 27 games at Petco Park. Last season, they allowed 62 in 81 home games.
"We have to execute better throughout the game," Balsley said. "It just seems at this point a lot of our mistakes are getting hit over the fence instead of line drives or hard groundballs."
• The Padres held their 10th annual Salute to the Negro Leagues luncheon and program Friday afternoon. The featured guests included nine former Negro League players with keynote addresses by Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., and the award-winning sports journalist, author and blogger, Joe Posnanski.
Before Friday's game, the team honored the former Negro League players in a special pregame ceremony. Minnie Minoso threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Padres Foundation presented donations to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Society for American Baseball Research's Negro Leagues Grave Marker Project and the New Central Library.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.