MIAMI -- Will Venable doesn't hit many home runs. They just seem to come in bunches.
Venable's two-run homer in the seventh inning broke a scoreless tie, Clayton Richard allowed five hits in six innings and the San Diego Padres spoiled Florida interim manager Edwin Rodriguez's home debut by beating the Marlins 3-0 on Friday night.It was Venable's third homer in the last five games, all coming after a 45-game stretch without a round-tripper."I've been getting some good pitches to hit lately," said Venable, who hit three homers in a seven-game span near the beginning of the season.Venable and Chase Headley both had two hits for the Padres, who have won four of their last five. Richard (5-4) won for the first time in his last six starts, although he has a 2.77 ERA during that stretch."It's a good feeling," Richard said. "It seemed like it's been years since I've gotten one. It makes you feel like you're part of the winning effort."Hanley Ramirez had three hits for Florida, raising his average to .299. The rest of the Marlins went 4-for-27, with Ronny Paulino getting two hits."We hit some balls hard at people," Rodriguez said. "And they took advantage of one mistake."Richard and Marlins starter Chris Volstad (4-7) both rolled through the first six innings, rarely getting into any sort of trouble. But in the seventh, Volstad -- who had just retired nine straight Padres -- flinched.Headley hit a leadoff single, Venable followed with his seventh homer on a 1-2 fastball and Yorvit Torrealba followed with a sharp single to left. That was it for Volstad, who allowed seven hits and three runs after Torrealba scored later in the inning on Oscar Salazar's pinch-hit single to center."Pretty much the only pitch I left over the middle of the plate," Volstad said.Said Venable: "I think we all knew it was going to come at some point."Three Padres relievers finished the shutout, with Heath Bell working the ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances. Bell retired the first two Marlins, gave up a single to Paulino and then walked Mike Stanton, before ending the game by getting Wes Helms -- the potential tying run -- to strike out swinging."Our bullpen has been extremely solid," Padres manager Bud Black said. "There is no question about it."Rodriguez fell to 1-2 in his stint as Fredi Gonzalez's replacement. Bobby Valentine remains the frontrunner to replace Gonzalez on a permanent basis, although a person involved in the Marlins' search told The Associated Press earlier Friday that talks between the sides were "slowing down" temporarily.One reason for that could be because the Marlins play a three-game series in Puerto Rico starting Monday. Rodriguez is a native of Puerto Rico and there is sentiment within the organization to allow him to manage that series against the Mets, Valentine's most recent major-league team.No matter the manager, Florida's schedule has been brutally difficult in recent weeks. By the time this series against the NL West-leading Padres ends, the Marlins will have played 12 of 15 games against teams leading their respective division at the time.So far, Florida is 4-6 in the first 10 of those matchups."We've been playing pretty good," Rodriguez said. "Volstad made just one mistake and when you're playing a team like, they take advantage."
Florida right-hander Josh Johnson, who has allowed one run or less in each of his last eight starts, pitches Saturday. ... The Padres need two wins in the final five games of June for their sixth consecutive winning month. ... Stanton, hitting just .218 with one home run coming into Friday, batted eighth for the first time. He went 1-for-3. ... Volstad's bat flew out of his hands in the second inning, sending it up the third-base line. Headley thought about catching it before smartly stepping aside. ... Ramirez hasn't ended a day over .300 since May 28 but has raised his average 21 points in the last two weeks.