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SAN DIEGO (AP) — The crowd got edgy when Will Venable popped up a bunt to Atlanta reliever Jonny Venters for the second out of the eighth inning with the bases loaded and the San Diego Padres trailing 1-0Something remarkable happened next. The Padres got some timely hitting, enough to stun Venters and the Braves with a rally that carried them to a 4-1 win on Sunday. Cory Luebke, making his first start of the season for the Padres, combined with four relievers on a two-hitter and San Diego took two of three from the Braves.
Jason Bartlett hit an infield single to bring in the tying run, Orlando Hudson followed with a two-run single and Chase Headley added an RBI hit.
Venters saw his ERA rise from 0.56, the best among big league relievers, to 1.29.
“One of the toughest eighth-inning guys in the big leagues,” Hudson said. “First-pitch slider, I think the next pitch was a fastball. I just wanted to put a good swing on it, make something happen.”
Before Bartlett’s hit, the Padres were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position after going 0 for 7 on Saturday night, when they were routed 10-1.
“It makes any inning better, as long as you can get runners in, man,” Hudson said. “It ain’t that easy driving runners in. You’ve got a guy that’s cutting it, sinking it, slider, curveball, changeup. I wish it was that easy.”
The Padres won 11-2 on Friday night.
“We’re playing good baseball,” Bartlett said. “It’s tough when we’re not getting that big hit that we need. We got one tonight, but we definitely could have had a lot more Ws.”
The Padres’ rally came after the Braves scored an unearned run in the top of the eighth for a 1-0 lead.
San Diego loaded the bases on a walk, an infield single, a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk off Venters (4-1) before Venable popped up.
Bartlett hit a grounder that deflected off Venters’ glove and rolled to shortstop Alex Gonzalez for an infield single, allowing Chris Denorfia to score the tying run.
“I thought Gonzalez was going to be able to grab it, but I’ll take it,” Gonzalez said. “O-Dog came up and got another clutch hit. It was a good day for us.”
Hudson singled up the middle to bring in two more runs. Chase Headley added an RBI single.
“I just didn’t get it done,” Venters said. “I didn’t make pitches. I blew the game for my team.”
Venters had a rough inning overall. He issued a leadoff walk to Denorfia and then was slow to throw the ball after fielding Cameron Maybin’s swinging bunt that went for an infield single.
On Bartlett’s grounder, “If I don’t touch that ball, I don’t know if Gonzo gets to it or not. It was just a reaction thing there. I’ve got to make that play.”
The Padres, last in the NL West, won two of three at Boston and then took two of three against the Braves.
“I think playing in Boston, that atmosphere, kind of woke some guys up, including myself,” Bartlett said. “We’re out there playing hard. We’re trying to win. We’re doing little things.”
Mike Adams (3-1) pitched the eighth for the win. Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his 20th save in 21 chances.
Atlanta’s Eric Hinske reached when the Padres couldn’t turn a double play on his grounder to second in the eighth. Jordan Schafer doubled to the gap in right-centre and Venable fielded the ball but dropped it when he reached into his glove. That allowed Hinske to score and Schafer to take third. Jason Heyward struck out on a checked-swing.
Both starters pitched well.
Luebke struck out six and allowed one hit and two walks in five scoreless innings. He struck out the side in the first inning on 10 pitches and retired his first seven batters before allowing a double to centre by Nate McLouth.
Atlanta’s Tim Hudson struck out eight in six scoreless innings while allowing six hits and three walks.
Pinch-hitter Jesus Guzman had a leadoff double in the seventh and the Padres eventually loaded the bases with two outs before pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick hit into a force play to end the threat.
NOTES: Padres 3B Headley returned after missing two games with a shoulder injury. … Aussie reliever Josh Spence, who made his big league debut for the Padres on Friday night, retired four straight batters and has retired all 10 batters he’s faced in three appearances.
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