Rocky seventh inning does in Tomko
Niekro's first career home run is bright spot for Giants
SAN DIEGO -- It wasn't officially "bobblehead" night at PETCO Park on Monday, but shortstop Omar Vizquel had a couple of bobbles that cost Brett Tomko and the San Francisco Giants dearly in their 7-2 loss to the San Diego Padres at misty PETCO Park.
Brightening the loss was Lance Niekro's first Major League home run. Niekro, son of former Major League pitcher Joe Niekro and nephew of Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, hit his first Major League home run off Padres starter Jake Peavy with two outs in the sixth inning to give the Giants a short-lived 1-0 lead.
Niekro had come on in the fifth inning to replace J.T. Snow, who left the game with a right groin strain and will likely be out Tuesday. Snow is listed as day-to-day.
Peavy (2-0), who pitched seven innings, allowed six hits and walked one while striking out nine.
Mark Loretta laced a two-out, bases-loaded double in the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie.
Tomko (0-3) pitching into the seventh inning and could have gotten out of the inning deadlocked at 1-1 had it not been for a costly bobble.
However, with runners on first and second, Dave Roberts hit a broken-bat chopper to shortstop. It was a tough play for Vizquel, who couldn't handle the ball as Roberts reached on an infield single that loaded the bases with two outs.
Loretta followed with a drive into the left-field corner, scoring three runs. After Tomko follwed by walking Brian Giles intentionally, Phil Nevin laced a double to right-center, scoring two more runs.
It was another bobble in the bottom of sixth by Vizquel that led to the Padres first run.
Roberts, making his 2005 debut, reached safely on a bunt down the first-base line.
Loretta then hit what looked to be a perfect double-play ball to shortstop. However, the nine-time Gold Glove winner initially couldn't handle the ball before flipping it to second to force Roberts.
Brian Giles followed with a double down the left-field line, putting runners on second and third. Nevin came through with an infield grounder, scoring Loretta with the tying run.
"The ball came up a little bit on Roberts' hit in the seventh," said Vizquel. "I just didn't catch it. If I would have come up with the ball cleanly, I might have made the play, but I was more worried about keeping the ball in front of me instead of making a crazy play where I don't come up with the ball.
|Omar Vizquel / SS|
Weight: 185 lbs
Bats: S / Throws: R
"He (Roberts) is a tough guy to throw out at first base," "When I couldn't come up with the ball clean, there was nothing I could do about it except keep the bases loaded and go after the next guy. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the guy out."
Tomko added: "I made the pitches I wanted to all night. It was a fastball to Loretta that I wanted to throw and he went and got it. It's very frustrating. I'm mad and ticked off." The Giants have scored just three runs in Tomko's three losses. "He threw the ball real well," said Giants manager Felipe Alou. "On that pitch to Loretta, he left it out there.
"That ground ball by Roberts in the seventh, the field was very wet and not easy fielding," Alou said. "The ball came up on [Vizquel], and it's a do-or-die play with Roberts running."
Alou did find a bright spot in the performance of Niekro, who finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs.
"He's going to be a slugger, that guy," said Alou of Niekro. "He didn't hit many home runs in the minor leagues, but he has the size, swing and disposition. He's a tough guy at the plate.
"It's good to finally square the ball up. I've been working a lot in the cage and doing a couple of things. It was good to see the rewards for it."
Sandy Burgin is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.