SAN DIEGO (AP) — Ha-Seong Kim hit a grand slam and a double, stole third and scored twice to lead the struggling San Diego Padres to a critical 6-2 win against the Miami Marlins on Monday night in a matchup of National League wild-card hopefuls.
“Since he has been in the leadoff spot really is kind of when he hit his stride,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said of Kim. “He knocks in runs, he gets big hits, he gets on base, he understands what is asked of him in a leadoff spot, and he plays defensively as well as anybody in the game. He has become quite the player.”
The Padres (60-66) are four games behind the Marlins (64-62) in the wild-card race. San Diego rebounded after losing three of four at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks in its previous series.
The Marlins have lost five of their last six games. Miami and San Diego play two more games in the series.
San Diego starter Michael Wacha (10-2) had a solid outing in the win, going 5 1/3 innings and giving up one run, five hits and striking out seven.
"He does it with strikeouts throwing 90 miles an hour," Melvin said of Wacha's success. “So you don't have to be a power pitcher, so to speak, to get strike outs. His change-up can do it. His fastball surprises people.”
Marlins starter Ryan Weathers (1-8) — who was with the Padres earlier this season — was recalled from Triple-A Jacksonville on Monday and had a rocky first two innings.
In the second, Weathers walked three consecutive batters with one out. With the bases jammed, Kim hit a four-seam fastball into the left field bleachers for his 17th homer of the season, giving San Diego a 5-0 lead.
“At that at-bat I was behind in the count, so you know, I thought to myself just simplify and just try nice and easy and hit a left-field fly ball,” Kim said through a translator. “I was able to get good contact and it went over the fence.”
The magnitude of the win wasn't lost on the Padres.
“Every game down the stretch here is important,” Wacha said. “I view them all as must-win games heading into this last month-and-a-half. It's time for sure.”
Weathers lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs and five hits while walking five and striking out four.
“Five walks in three-and-a-third, also a grand slam and some other good at bats, we just kind of made him work,” Melvin said of Weathers. “When you throw that many pitches in three-and-a-third, most times it is not going to go your way.”
Manny Machado hit his 24th homer in the fifth against Marlins reliver Bryan Hoeing. It was a low-liner solo shot that traveled 403 feet to left center, hitting the top of the wall and bouncing over.
“Some of the balls that went out today compared to other days are kind of crazy it felt like. That is just a line-drive to left-field it feels like and the next thing you know it is skipping off the wall and out of the ballpark,” Melvin said. “You always feel good about him (Machado). If he goes through little periods where he doesn't hit, it is just a matter of time until he does.”
Miami’s Josh Bell hit his 18th homer of the season, a solo blast to right field in the sixth to breakup the shutout and drive Wacha from the game. The Marlins added another run in the inning against reliever Pedro Avila to narrow San Diego’s lead to 6-2.
The Marlins couldn’t muster any more runs, however, against Padres relievers Steven Wilson, Robert Suarez and Tom Cosgrove. Each pitched an inning.
San Diego scored a run in the first as Machado hit a sacrifice fly that plated Kim, who had previously doubled and stole third.
"When you have a good game like this, there shouldn't be a letdown the next day," Melvin said. “But for whatever reason we haven't been able to follow good games up with more of them and that is why we are sitting on the record that we are and that's why we haven't been able to put together more than a three-game win streak.”