The Yankees extended their winning streak to seven games by completing a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres yesterday afternoon. Joba Chamberlain got the start and turned in his first truly dominant major league start as he struck out nine Padres in 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits and three walks.
The run came in the fourth when Brian Giles led off with a single, was pushed to second by a walk to Adrian Gonzalez, and scored when Tony Clark, hitting from the left side, hit a flare to the line in shallow left that hopped into the stands for a ground-rule double. Prior to that, Chamberlain worked himself into a bases-loaded jam in the second, but struck out Scott Hairston, got an out at home from a wild pitch, and struck out Khalil Greene to end the inning. The play on Gonzalez came when Chamberlain skipped a pitch past Jose Molina, then raced home to cover the plate. Molina gathered the ball and fired to Chamberlain, who actually set up to block the plate and got the tag down on Gonzalez before the Padres first baseman was able to get his foot around him to the dish. Chamberlain didn't allow a hit in any of his other innings and ended his outing with a pair of strikeouts. Had he been more efficient, he could have gone deeper, as he had retired seven of his last eight batters when he hit 100 pitches.
Fortunately the Yankee bullpen did its job. The Yanks had tied the score in the bottom of the fifth when Melky Cabrera walked, stole second and third, and scored on a Molina sac fly. Jose Veras got the final out of the sixth in relief of Chamberlain, then in the bottom of that inning, Derek Jeter singled, stole second, moved to third on a Bobby Abreu groundout to the right side, and scored on an Alex Rodriguez single. Veras pitched around a pair of walks in the seventh. Kyle Farnsworth pitched around an Adrian Gonzalez single in the eighth, and, once again, Mariano Rivera struck out the side in the ninth. Rivera has struck out 25 men in his last 16 innings.
It was a clean, crisp game, and a rewarding 2-1 victory for the Yankees, though it would have been nice if Chamberlain had picked up the win for his efforts. With the win, the Yankees became the eighth team in baseball to reach 40 wins. Next up: Dusty Baker's Reds.