Padres 3, Marlins 1
Tim Stauffer had surrendered eight homers in his last two starts, including five in an ugly three-inning outing at Cincinnati.
The solution was simple: keep the ball down.
Stauffer threw seven strong innings to rebound from his worst start of the season, leading the San Diego Padres to a 3-1 win over the Florida Marlins on Thursday night.
It was a complete turnaround from his horrific start against the Reds on Saturday.
''I was looking forward, after that game, to getting back out on the mound as soon as possible and knowing that how that game finished wasn't what I knew I was capable of,'' Stauffer said. ''I thought I pitched the kind of game I was capable of.''
Stauffer (8-9) allowed one run - John Buck's 15th homer in the seventh inning - and five hits. The right-hander struck out five and walked one in his first outing since he yielded nine runs in a 13-1 loss at homer-friendly Great American Ball Park.
''Just trying to avoid the middle of the plate,'' Stauffer said. ''You see what happens to pitches when they are in the middle of the plate. The one Buck hit there didn't do a lot and he put a good swing on it.''
Jesus Guzman drove in two runs for the Padres, who beat Florida for the 10th time in 12 games. Heath Bell pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 33rd save in 36 chances.
''Last week in Cincinnati, I think there were too many pitches left out over the plate and the Reds didn't miss them,'' San Diego manager Bud Black said. ''He was a little crisper down and the use of the change up kept those guys off balance. The big difference was more balls down in the zone.''
Florida starter Javier Vazquez (7-11) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. The right-hander retired his last 14 batters but still dropped to 0-2 with a 2.77 ERA in four starts this month.
''He gave up a few in the first, and was steady the whole rest of the way, but that's not good enough,'' Marlins manager Jack McKeon said
Florida has lost 12 of 14 to fall a season-high 24 games behind NL East-leading Philadelphia.
San Diego scored twice in the first inning, but missed out on a chance for a bigger inning.
Jason Bartlett hit a one-out double and Cameron Maybin reached on an infield single. Guzman followed with a two-run triple. Orlando Hudson then was hit by a pitch and stole second base with Kyle Blanks at the plate.
Blanks stuck out on Hudson's steal of second. When Buck's throw caromed off the glove of second baseman Jose Lopez and went into center field, Guzman came home. But plate umpire Tony Randazzo ruled Blanks interfered with Buck's throw on his swing for the third out of the inning.
''It was too late,'' Vazquez said. ''I just kept pitching. In the first inning, I had some balls fall in there with tough luck.''
Nick Hundley led off the San Diego second with his third triple in as many games and scored on Logan Forsythe's sacrifice fly. Hundley has hit safely in all six games he's played since returning from the disabled list, hitting .524 (11 for 21) with a homer and three RBIs.
''Same old story every night, right?'' McKeon said. ''We get behind in the first inning. We have a tough time getting our offense going every night. We're getting killed in the first inning. We're behind every night.''
Florida's Mike Stanton went 1 for 2 with two walks, but failed to homer for the first time in five games.
NOTES: McKeon was back in San Diego for the first time since he managed Florida in 2005. McKeon was the Padres' general manager from 1980-90, and served as the manager from 1988 to 1990. ... RHP Joe Ross, San Diego's first-round draft pick, threw out a ceremonial first pitch to C Austin Hedges, the club's second-round selection. Hedges caught a bullpen session before the game from LHP Cory Luebke, then took batting practice. ... Marlins RHP Chris Volstad (5-9, 5.60 ERA) will make his second start since being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on Friday night. He will face San Diego LHP Wade LeBlanc (1-2, 4.54), who has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his six starts this season.