Wade LeBlanc peaked out of the San Diego dugout as his turn to hit approached in the eighth inning. No one was warming up in the Padres‘ bullpen.
“That was a real good feeling,” LeBlanc said. “It lets you they have confidence in you.”
Adrian Gonzalez hit his career-high 37th homer and drove in three runs, helping LeBlanc and the Padres beat the San Francisco Giants 4-2 Wednesday.
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LeBlanc (2-1) pitched a career-best seven innings to win his second straight start.
“This one was a lot better,” he said. “I was able to set the tempo for the most part from pitch number one.”
Padres manager Bud Black said LeBlanc earned the chance to continue.
“He was throwing the ball well,” Black said. “He made one mistake but besides that there was not a lot of hard contact. He threw strikes and the fifth, sixth, seventh innings were efficient.”
LeBlanc, who made his big league debut last year, is a different pitcher this go around.
“It’s not even close,” he said. “I was a totally different guy. Last year I tried to strike everybody out.”
Gonzalez connected for a two-run shot in the third. Oscar Salazar also homered for the Padres, who have won 10 of their last 13 series.
Andres Torres hit a two-run homer for the Giants. The NL wild-card contenders have lost three of their last four.
Barry Zito (9-12) gave up three runs on six hits over five innings. He lost his fourth straight decision to the Padres.
“My release point was strange in the early going so my curveball wasn’t there at the beginning,” Zito said. “That’s a big pitch for me.”
LeBlanc allowed two runs on four hits. He retired 11 straight before walking the first two batters of the eighth.
Luke Gregerson, who earned his first major league win Tuesday night, came on to get pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen to pop up a bunt attempt, struck out pinch hitter Eugenio Velez and retired Freddy Sanchez on a popup.
“What he did in the eighth was bigger than anything I did in the first seven,” LeBlanc said.
Frandsen entered the game specifically to move the runners over. He worked the count to 3-1 before popping the ball up.
“I had a big opportunity to come into the game and make something happen,” Frandsen said. “I couldn’t have gotten a straighter fastball and I popped it up. Not to get it done at all is quite disappointing. It wasn’t like he was throwing nasty stuff. It was just not getting it done.”
Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his 37th save in 40 chances, matching St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin for the NL lead.
The Padres took a 1-0 lead in the first when Everth Cabrera beat out an infield single, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a single by Gonzalez.
Torres’ third home run in the third brought the Giants within 3-2 but they never seriously threatened again until the eighth.
Giants LHP Randy Johnson (strained left shoulder) threw 30 pitches off a mound near his home in Arizona on Tuesday, the second time he’s thrown off a mound since the injury on July 6. … Giants OF Eugenio Velez bruised a finger sliding into second base on Tuesday night was out of the starting lineup. … LeBlanc made his fourth consecutive road start. … Salazar batted fifth for the first time.