SAN DIEGO -- Josh Spence, a 23-year-old Australian, will never forget his big league debut.
Cheered on by an all-star team of teenagers from his home country, Spence struck out Jason Heyward to start a perfect ninth inning that finished the San Diego Padres' 11-2 laugher over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.Spence was so nervous he said he didn't hear his countrymen cheering from the along the third-base line. He met them before the game, then went back out after the victory and signed autographs. One of the young players gave him an Aussie flag."They were here actually to see Peter Moylan of the Braves, but he's on the DL right now. There just so happened to be another Aussie out there," Spence said."I'm speechless right now. What can I say? I'm being terrible right now," Spence added.The Padres were thrilled for Spence, whose contract was purchased from Double-A San Antonio on Tuesday. The native of Victoria, Australia, was a ninth-round pick in the 2010 draft."I think that's one of the best things in the game, for me, when a player, a teammate, makes his major league debut," manager Bud Black said.Just before Spence threw his first pitch, second baseman Orlando Hudson slapped him on the shoulder and told him to relax. "Coming from someone like that, it meant a lot," Spence said.Spence then struck out Heyward before retiring Chipper Jones and Brian McCann."I'm just blessed to be here right now," Spence said. "Gosh, three days ago if you'd asked me if I was going to pitch in Petco, I would have told you, 'You're playing a prank on me.'"San Diego's Tim Stauffer had a career-high nine strikeouts over seven effective innings and got some rare run support from one of the majors' weakest lineups.It was the most runs scored at home this season by the Padres, who have struggled at their spacious downtown ballpark. Jesus Guzman hit his first big league homer when he batted for Stauffer in the six-run seventh, a 395-foot, two-run shot off the facade of the second deck in left field.It was the third straight win for San Diego, which finally scored some runs for Stauffer (3-5). He came in getting the worst run support in the majors, an average of 2.15 runs when he's in a game. The Padres were shut out his previous two starts.Stauffer, Pat Neshek and Spence combined on a four-hitter.In Stauffer's previous seven starts, the Padres scored only seven runs while he was in the game. Stauffer allowed two runs and four hits against Atlanta.The Padres came in tied with San Francisco for the fewest runs in the majors, 257. It was just the third time in 77 games they scored in double digits."If we start putting some things together, we're going to be all right," Stauffer said. "It was a lot of fun to be a part of. It's just good to see guys see some results of hitting the ball hard and seeing some breaks go our way."Derek Lowe (3-6) allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings and is winless in his last nine starts. The Braves' four-game winning streak ended with just their seventh loss in 22 games at Petco Park since 2005.Ryan Ludwick missed a homer by inches in the seventh, settling for an RBI double. Cameron Maybin hit a two-run triple and scored on a two-out throwing error by second baseman Dan Uggla. That kept the inning alive for Guzman, who connected against Cairo Asencio.Stauffer's only mistake came when he allowed Freddie Freeman's two-run homer to straightaway center field with two outs in the seventh. Freeman hit a full-count pitch for his eighth homer. Heyward was aboard on a leadoff single.Stauffer retired 16 straight before Heyward's hit.The Padres scored three runs on four hits and a walk in the sixth, all with two outs. Alberto Gonzalez hit a two-run single to right and Stauffer followed with a single to center to give the Padres a 5-0 lead."The pitch I'd like back is to Gonzalez," Lowe said. "It's definitely a frustrating game because it wasn't that they were hitting the cover off the ball. But they were getting hits and runs. That inning, from outs to out of the game was pretty fast."I wish I had gotten the ball away to Gonzalez rather than on the inner half. That was the key pitch of the game."
Stauffer's nine Ks were the most by any Padres pitcher this season. His previous strikeout high was eight in a 4-2 win against the Colorado Rockies on June 7. ... Guzman had San Diego's first pinch homer of the season. ... The 11 runs were the most given up by the Braves this season. ... Lowe's last win was May 6 at Philadelphia.