SAN DIEGO (AP) — Fernando Tatis Jr. stole home in the seventh inning to electrify a sellout crowd at Petco Park and big league ERA leader Blake Snell pitched six strong innings as the San Diego Padres beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 Wednesday night to take two of three from the best team in the AL.
Two batters after Trent Grisham homered to give the Padres a 4-2 lead, Tatis singled, stole second and took third on pitcher Cionel Perez's throwing error. With Juan Soto batting, the left-handed Perez had his back turned and Tatis took a few steps, began jogging and then broke into a sprint to easily steal home. Perez was so surprised he didn't attempt to throw home.
Tatis slid across the plate and leaped in joy. He hugged Jake Cronenworth on the top step and then went the length of the dugout high-fiving and hugging teammates.
“It felt amazing to be able to do that," said Tatis, who has had some unreal baserunning exploits in his five seasons in the big leagues. "I definitely enjoyed it and was going crazy when I did it.”
Tatis said he noticed that Perez was taking as much time as he could on his first pitch to Soto, "probably trying to execute against one of the best hitters in baseball. Second time around I took just advantage right away and I just went for it.
“I was trying not to call attention since the beginning with a small lead and the third baseman was a little bit far,” Tatis said. “As soon as I saw he got engaged and start setting, I took my first four steps and I saw he was still looking down and when he saw me I was already past home.”
Said manager Bob Melvin: “I kid with him that he’s a witch and he rides his broom around the bases and that's pretty much what happened there. When he takes off, everybody just gets nervous. Very rarely are you going to see that.”
Snell was in the clubhouse when Tatis stole home. “Everyone up here was just as excited as him. That's what he does. He's an unreal talent and I'm happy he's on my team. He can do everything. None of this surprises us anymore. I don't get surprised because I expect him to do crazy things and things that people can't do."
In the eighth, Cronenworth went airborne to make a spectacular catch of Adley Rutschman's liner.
Snell (10-8) saw his ERA tick up from 2.63 to 2.65 as he allowed two runs and just three hits while striking out five and walking two. His only big mistake was allowing Ryan Mountcastle's solo homer to left with one out in the sixth, his 16th, that pulled the Orioles to 3-2.
The inconsistent Padres won for just the fourth time in 11 games. They haven't played up to the expectations that come with having baseball's third-highest payroll and an appearance in the NL Championship Series last fall and are struggling to stay in the wild-card race. They entered the night in fourth place in the NL West, 16 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Snell also allowed a run in the first when Rutschman hit a leadoff single, advanced on a wild pitch and a fly ball to right field and scored on Anthony Santander's sacrifice fly.
Josh Hader pitched the ninth for his 27th save.
The Padres took a 3-1 lead in the third with some small ball, hitting four singles and drawing a walk against Dean Kremer (11-5). Tatis, Xander Bogaerts and Cronenworth each hit an RBI single.
Kremer allowed three runs and five hits in six innings.