08/12/09 1:10 AM ET
Gonzalez's six hits pace Padres' romp
First baseman sets club mark for hits in a nine-inning game
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Gonzalez set a franchise record for hits in a nine-inning game (six), leading the Padres to a 13-6 pasting of the Brewers before a Miller Park crowd of 37,040, which saw San Diego set a season high for runs and hits (22).
Gonzalez, who raised his batting average 11 points with the six hits, shared some of his accolades with his teammates, who not only provided protection for him, but prolonged enough innings to make it possible for him to get six at-bats.
On three occasions in their 40 seasons, the Padres have had three players get six hits in an extra-inning game. The last was Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, on Aug. 8, 1993. The others were Joe Lefebvre (Sept. 13, 1982) and Gene Richards (July 26, 1977).
"I was able to do it in nine [innings] because everyone hit," said Gonzalez, who drove in three runs with one double and five singles.
Gonzalez joined Ian Kinsler and Freddy Sanchez as the third big leaguer to collect six hits in a game this season.
A two-time All-Star, Gonzalez has raised his batting average from .246 to .262 in the past 14 games, the result, he said, of stringing together consistent at-bats by not expanding the strike zone and staying inside the ball.
It's been a long climb back after Gonzalez, who hit 20 home runs in the first two months of the season, hit .235 in June and .198 in July, when he wasn't getting much protection in the lineup and opposing pitchers started walking him at an alarming rate or merely pitching around him.
"His at-bats were fine; he just wasn't getting his hits," Padres manager Bud Black said of Gonzalez's mid-season funk. "He might have been hitting into a little tough luck as well.
"But there's been a little resurgence in the lineup. The guys around him are in the [opposing] pitchers' mind."
That includes hitters like Chase Headley, who went 3-for-6 and narrowly missed a fourth hit when he scorched a ball off third baseman Casey McGehee's glove in a six-run sixth inning that was ruled an error.
Headley has raised his average from .232 to .255 in the past 13 games, taking some of the pressure off Gonzalez. Kevin Kouzmanoff had three hits, while Will Venable had two hits, including his sixth home run in the past 11 games.
But if you're looking for a big hit in a game in which the Padres had a bunch of them, well, it belonged to Gonzalez, who went down and drove an 0-2 pitch from left-handed reliever Mitch Stetter into right field in that sixth inning to help break the game open.
"I've been trying to stay closed [with my front shoulder], especially against lefties," Gonzalez said. "To be able to get a 0-2 pitch down in the zone and stay on it ... that was the best at-bat of the day."
Stetter, one of the Brewers' most reliable relievers this season, said the pitch wasn't at all where he wanted it.
"I would say it was in a bad place. The first two pitches were good, and then the 0-and-2 pitch wasn't good enough," Stetter said. "I left it over the plate, and a good hitter like him, he's going to make you pay for it. He did that tonight, and that's kind of the turning point in the game right there."
The Padres kept piling on, scoring three more runs in the seventh inning and then another run in the eighth. The seven-run margin of victory was their largest of the season.
This outburst proved to be plenty of offensive backing for Padres starter Clayton Richard, who is 2-0 in three starts since being obtained in the July 31 trade that sent Jake Peavy to the White Sox.
Richard allowed two runs over the first five innings and nearly made it out of the sixth unscathed before Bill Hall hit a two-run home run. Still, Richard appreciated the runs, and he said that, in runaway games like that, just throwing strikes becomes an even bigger priority.
"You just realize you have to throw strikes. You don't want to change your game plan," said Richard, who allowed four runs in six innings with two walks and two strikeouts.
This was the first time in his three Padres starts that Richard completed six innings. Black liked what he saw in the left-hander, who didn't get nearly as many groundouts (six) as he usually does with his sinker but still managed to dodge enough bullets against a dangerous lineup.
"I thought tonight his fastball had a touch more velocity. I liked that he threw a couple of good changeups," Black said. "Once he develops a breaking ball to go with his fastball and change, we'll have a good pitcher on our hands."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.