SAN DIEGO – For the Marlins, “V” means victory.
It was Rick VandenHurk who beat the Padres on Monday. On Tuesday, it was Chris Volstad’s turn, as the Marlins bobbed above the .500 mark with their 3-2 win over the anemic Padres at Petco Park.
The Marlins leaned on Volstad, who held the majors’ worst hitting team to a run, in part because he kept the ball from leaving the park.
Volstad had given up 20 home runs, including three in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in his previous start on Wednesday.
“I didn’t leave three (pitches) up tonight,” Volstad said.
The Padres, who are lacking with the lumber, mustered only seven hits, the first five of them singles until Kyle Blanks greeted closer Leo Nunez with a home run in the ninth.
Volstad gave up a first-inning run an Adrian Gonzalez RBI single.
After that, Volstad took control to earn a win that put the Marlins in a position to sweep the series. They’ll play the finale in an afternoon matinee on Wednesday. Volstad is now 3-0 with a ridiculously low 0.73 ERA in three career starts in California.
“Maybe they should start our games back home at 10 o’clock,” Volstad joked.
The 22-year-old right-hander improved to 7-9 and might now be rounding into form following a stretch in which he lost eight of 11 decisions. Volstad has now won two of his past three outings, including a 5-hit shutout over the Giants in San Francisco before the All-Star break.
It was another good sign for the Marlins, who have been searching for consistency out of their starters.
“That’s the key,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez. “When we’ve been successful, its when our starters go deep in ballgames.”
Not that the Padres are much of a guide, being as they rank dead last in the majors in batting average and scoring. Their lineup is missing Brian Giles and David Eckstein.
But the Marlins will take anything they can, and what better team to face when your own lineup isn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball. The Marlins have been Padre-like of late.
They have been shut out three times over their past eight games and have scored only 11 runs in their five games since returning from the break.
Their only runs Tuesday came on a pair of two-out hits by John Baker and Jorge Cantu, and a sacrifice fly by Jeremy Hermida.
It wasn’t like the Marlins starved for hits. They had 12, at least one in every inning except the eighth.
Hanley Ramirez had three hits, including two infield singles, to increase his lead over Albert Pujols in the National League batting race: .348 to .332. Baker reached base three times.
But the Marlins left 10 men on base, going 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Nunez notched his sixth save, but not before Blanks bashed his first major league home run off the Marlins closer and the Padres put the tying run at second with two outs.
But Nunez got Everth Cabrera to end the game on a bouncer back to the mound.