The San Diego Padres loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning before Juan Soto popped up to shortstop.
“I’m sure everyone in the building is thinking, ‘Oh, here we go again,’” designated hitter Matt Carpenter said.
It’s been that kind of stretch for the Padres, who have looked lost at the plate for most of the last two weeks. But then it all changed when Carpenter walked to bring in a run and two batters later, with two outs, Rougned Odor hit a desperately needed bases-clearing double off struggling Corey Kluber to propel the Padres to a 7-0 win against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.
It was just the third win in 14 games for the Padres, who have lost five straight series but at least avoided a sweep.
Manager Bob Melvin described the feeling in the dugout as “relief.”
Odor, signed during spring training, agreed.
“I felt great. This is what we need. This is who we are. That’s how we’re going to do it,” Odor said.
“Look, it’s no secret that we’ve gone through a rough stretch,” said Carpenter, who hit a two-run homer in the third inning. “We’re really having a hard time putting up at-bats with runners in scoring position, having a hard time scoring runs, having a hard time just being the dynamic offense that we all know we’re capable of being. When you’re going through a stretch like we’ve been through, you’ve got to find a way to stop the bleeding somehow.”
Odor finished with two doubles and four RBIs and Michael Wacha (5-1), who pitched for Boston last year, threw six strong innings. The Padres snapped a four-game losing streak and gave their fans something to cheer about after being booed several times during the last three games.
San Diego came in hitting an MLB-low .191 with runners in scoring position, a mystifying development for a team with baseball’s third-highest payroll, considering that bench coach Ryan Flaherty has the additional title of offensive coordinator and the Padres have two assistant hitting coaches.
The Padres were just 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position Sunday, but that one hit was enormous.
The 37-year-old Kluber (2-6) struggled from the start, loading the bases with no outs in the first on two walks and his own fielding error. He retired Soto but then walked Carpenter to bring in a run. After Ha-Seong Kim struck out, Odor drove a ball into the right field corner to clear the bases. All four runs were unearned.
“Oh my God. That was an icebreaker for us,” Melvin said. “The longer these things go on, it kind of takes on a life of its own.”
Odor called it “a tough at-bat. I was just looking for something up in the zone and tried to stay in the good part of the field and I did it.”
Added Carpenter: “When you have a moment like that, it’s a huge momentum builder and one we’re looking to hopefully catapult us here for the next couple months.”
The Padres, who reached the NL Championship Series last year, have plummeted since beating Clayton Kershaw and the rival Dodgers on May 5, when they were three games above .500 and third in the NL West, one game behind Los Angeles. Their stunning slump left them six games under and 8 1/2 back in fourth place going into Sunday.
Kluber allowed Soto’s single with one out in the third and made way for Richard Bleier, who then gave up Carpenter’s homer, his fourth. Kluber went a season-short 2 1/3 innings, allowing five runs, one earned, and three hits.
Odor added an RBI double in the sixth. The seven runs were the most since a 7-1 win against Cincinnati on May 3.
Wacha, who took a no-hitter into the eighth on Monday night against Kansas City, allowed five hits while striking out four and walking one.
“It felt good getting out there and throwing up a bunch of zeroes, getting a little length in there as well,” Wacha said. “I was able to keep them silent on the day.”
The Red Sox released RHP Ryan Brasier (1-0, 7.29). He was designated for assignment on Monday.
Red Sox: RHP Tanner Houck (3-3, 5.48) is scheduled to start Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels.
Padres: RHP Yu Darvish (2-3, 3.56) is scheduled to start Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series at Washington. The Nationals will counter with LHP MacKenzie Gore (3-3, 3.69). Gore was one of six players who went to the Nationals in the blockbuster trade on Aug. 2 for Soto and Josh Bell