The Padres gave up only one run Wednesday. After they set an unwanted record the previous night by allowing seven home runs in as many innings, it was a massive improvement.
They had Dinelson Lamet to thank. The rookie completed six innings for a fourth consecutive start. The Minnesota Twins managed a single score, with some help. During the first nine innings, they did not hit a ball over a fence.
In an exception to another flat offensive performance, the Padres did. Catcher Austin Hedges launched a solo shot. The eighth-inning blast tied the score and prevented a second consecutive shutout loss.
It would not, however, be enough. In the bottom of the 10th, Eddie Rosario crushed a two-run, walk-off homer against Phil Maton, delivering a 3-1 victory for the Twins.
"Rosario turns fastballs around as well as anybody, and that was a fastball kind of where he wants it more than anything," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He missed his spot, and you pay the price in this league if you miss spots."
Maton, another rookie, suffered his first career loss. A well-pitched game ended with a mistake.
For the second time in as many meetings, the Padres applied little pressure on Ervin Santana. The Twins righty threw a complete game last month at Petco Park. He threw six shutout innings Wednesday, scattering three hits.
Lamet nearly matched the 13th-year veteran. His lone stumble arrived in the second inning, after Rosario collected a leadoff double.
On a 1-2 count, Lamet bounced a slider in the dirt. Hedges blocked the ball, sprang out of his crouch to retrieve it and fired toward third base in an attempt to stop Rosario from advancing. The throw sailed down the left-field line. Rosario dashed another 90 feet, making it 1-0.
Lamet recomposed himself. He pitched into the seventh, where he was lifted after a leadoff single. He'd struck out five batters while permitting five hits and two walks.
"Right after (Tuesday) night's game, I started going over the lineup and understanding that they have a lot of left-handed hitters," Lamet said through an interpreter. "I knew that it would be a tall task, because I've had some trouble against lefties over the course of the year. I just really thought about it, visualized what I would have to do and knew that I would have to attack early with my sinker, get up in the count early and go after hitters."
Save for a three-run outing on Aug. 20, Lamet has not yielded more than two runs in any of his last 10 starts. His ERA has dropped from 6.40 to 4.15.
"I'm really trying to focus on locating my fastball down and away," Lamet said. "Luckily, I have a quality fastball, and I think once I'm able to do that, it's going to be difficult for hitters to handle my pitches."
The Padres, who were shut out Tuesday, appeared in danger of another blanking. Hedges provided late relief, hammering a Trevor Hildenberger slider over the left-field wall. The home run was Hedges' 17th of the season. His power production has been counteracted by a .255 on-base percentage.
"He grinds as hard as anyone in the cage," Green said. "He wants to be good on both sides of the baseball. I think he's doing better at dish. ... It was a big swing. Big swing gave us an opportunity to come back and win a baseball game. We just couldn't cash in with runners in scoring position."
Aside from Hedges' connection, the Padres offense supplied another uninspiring performance without its No. 3 hitter, Jose Pirela. The Padres are hopeful the left fielder, who is nursing a sprained pinky finger, can return to the lineup Friday at Colorado. Pirela did not take batting practice Wednesday. He was caught stealing pinch-running in the ninth.
"He is feeling a little bit better, but just kind of where it is, that left pinky finger presses on the knob of the bat," Green said. "It's a tough thing for him to swing right now."
Padres reliever Buddy Baumann took a grounder off his face after slipping on the mound in the seventh. A team trainer checked on Baumann, and the pitcher stayed in the game.