Kouzmanoff’s single sinks Rockies in 10 innings
SAN DIEGO – As good as it felt for slumping Kevin Kouzmanoff to single in the winning run, he still had the wild Giles brothers to contend with.Kouzmanoff had just rounded first base Sunday after giving San Diego a 2-1, 10-inning victory over the Colorado Rockies when Brian Giles, leading the pack of celebrating Padres, slammed into him.”He speared me,” Kouzmanoff said. “He just dropped his shoulder right into me. But you’ve got to be prepared for that, I guess. It’s just a lot of fun.”Later, as Kouzmanoff spoke with reporters, Marcus Giles and pitcher Clay Hensley ambushed the rookie, smashing shaving cream pies into his face.Reliever Doug Brocail handed him a towel, and Kouzmanoff didn’t miss a beat.”I was looking for a good pitch to hit and I got it and I hit it the other way,” he said.Actually, there was more to it than that. The hit snapped a 2-for-20 season-opening slump for Kouzmanoff, obtained in an offseason trade that sent popular second baseman Josh Barfield to Cleveland.
Padres manger Bud Black sat Kouzmanoff on Friday night to help the third baseman clear his mind after starting 2-for-17.”I’ve been struggling a little bit lately,” Kouzmanoff said. “It feels pretty good to pick my team up.”It was San Diego’s second consecutive win against the Rockies, and both came late. On Saturday night, Adrian Gonzalez doubled in Jose Cruz Jr. with one out in the ninth for a 3-2 victory.On Sunday, Cruz tied it with a homer off Aaron Cook, who otherwise was brilliant.In the 10th, Khalil Greene tripled to right-center off LaTroy Hawkins (0-2) with one out. With the infield drawn in, Kouzmanoff singled past diving first baseman Todd Helton to bring in the winning run.”I’m just going through an adjustment period right now,” said Kouzmanoff, who came up with the Indians in September and hit a grand slam on the first big league pitch he saw.Black said it was “wonderful” to see Kouzmanoff bounce back.”The thing about it is, he cares a great deal. I think he wants to make a great first impression. He’s not overly pressing, but you want to get out of the gates in good fashion. This guy’s going to hit,” Black said.
Cruz said Kouzmanoff “is the kind of guy who can win a batting title. He’s so simple and coordinated and strong. It’s a long season. Pretty soon he’ll have a 4-for-4 day and he’ll be hitting .300. It’s good to see him do that.”San Diego’s bullpen got nine straight outs to extend its scoreless streak to 18 2-3 innings, the longest in club history to open a season. The bullpen is 3-0 after six games.After Jake Peavy left after seven innings, trailing 1-0, Cla Meredith, Trevor Hoffman and Scott Linebrink (1-0) each threw a perfect inning.”I hope it keeps going,” said Black, a former big league pitcher. “It’s great. All of our pitchers, we have high expectations for them. The bullpen has been outstanding. They’re on a great roll. They’re making pitches. Just execute your pitches; good things will happen.”Cook was cruising with a two-hit shutout before Cruz homered into the home-run porch down the right-field line to tie the score at 1 with two outs in the eighth.Until Cruz’s homer, his first, Cook had allowed only two baserunners. He gave up Josh Bard’s leadoff double in the second, then retired the next 14 batters until Marcus Giles doubled down the left-field line with two outs in the sixth. Giles was stranded when his older brother flied out to left.Cook allowed one run and five hits in nine innings, with four strikeouts and no walks.”You’re not going to see anything better than that,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “One pitch – a changeup. It was a good count to throw it.”
Cook said the home run pitch “caught just a little too much of the plate. He didn’t take a good swing but he kept his hands back.””It was a tough game out there,” Cook said. “Peavy and their bullpen threw a great game.”Peavy, the opening-day winner at San Francisco, allowed one run and five hits, struck out three and walked two.”Jake was very good,” Black said. “He went up against a guy who was on. Cook was outstanding, and Jake matched it.”The Rockies needed only a pair of singles to score in the fourth. Garrett Atkins hit a leadoff single, advanced on two straight groundouts and scored on Brad Hawpe’s single.”I was able to keep the game 1-0 and the boys were awesome late again,” Peavy said.Notes: San Diego’s Greg Maddux and Mike Cameron received their Gold Gloves before the game. Maddux, who split last season between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers, earned his record-tying 16th. It was the third for Cameron. … The Padres host San Francisco for three games starting Monday night, marking former manager Bruce Bochy’s return to Petco Park.
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