Lugo, Soto keep Padres' slim playoff hopes alive with 4-0 win over Giants

Juan Soto padres giants
Posted at 7:16 AM, Sep 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-27 10:16:19-04

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Seth Lugo allowed three hits and came within an out of his first career complete game, Juan Soto homered twice and the San Diego Padres stayed alive in the NL wild-card race, beating the San Francisco Giants 4-0 on Tuesday night.

The teams are tied at 78-80, 4 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the final NL wild-card spot. They also are three games behind Cincinnati and four games in back of Miami.

Lugo, who beat San Francisco behind six scoreless innings at Petco Park on Sept. 3, was just as crisp at Oracle Park. He had seven strikeouts and worked around three walks while throwing 123 pitches for his career-best eighth victory.

It was exactly what manager Bob Melvin hoped for when the Padres signed Lugo in the offseason. Mostly a reliever through his career, Lugo signed with San Diego with the idea of joining the rotation.

“He felt like he could be a starter all along,” said Melvin, who repeatedly paced the dugout hoping for Lugo to go the distance. “He felt like innings weren’t ever going to be a problem. Certainly throwing almost 125 pitches in his last game of the year showed you that he was prepared for it.”

The 33-year-old Lugo (8-7) pitched with runners on base in four innings, and retired 14 of 15 during one stretch. It marked the 17th time in 26 starts that Lugo has thrown 90 pitches or more.

“The last few years I’ve built up a pretty good routine so physically I feel good,” Lugo said. “Mentally I feel confident. It’s a good place to be heading into whatever’s next.”

Lugo got the first out of the ninth on a line drive to second base. Luis Matos walked before Joc Pederson reached on a fielder’s choice. Thairo Estrada singled with two outs before Melvin replaced Lugo with All-Star closer Josh Hader, who retired Michael Conforto on a looking strikeout.

“I wanted it,” Lugo said about a complete game. “Went out for the eighth, had never done that before. So at that point I was happy with whatever happened.”

Soto hit a solo shot off John Brebbia in the first inning to extend his on-base streak to a career-best 29 games. Soto connected for a two-run drive off Ryan Walker in the seventh for his 35th homer, another personal best.

It’s Soto’s fifth multi-homer game this season and the 17th of his career.

“I faced Brebbia a couple times before, so I know what he has,” Soto said. “He was showing that he had good stuff today so my mindset was jumping him early.”

Brebbia (3-3) was pressed into duty to make his ninth appearance as an opener this season after top pitching prospect Kyle Harrison was scratched from the lineup 15 minutes before first pitch due to illness. Brebbia retired four batters and had two strikeouts while allowing one run.

A wacky play led to an unearned run for San Diego in the third.

After Brett Sullivan singled with one out, Xander Bogaerts hit a slow chopper to the side of the mound. Giants reliever Alex Wood dove for the ball but missed, then second baseman Thairo Estrada grabbed it then threw wildly past first base for an error. Ha-Seong Kim’s groundout scored Sullivan.