Cassel pitches gem as Padres blank PiratesSep 18, 2007 - 6:47 AM By Tim Powers PA Sportsticker Contributing Writer
SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- Jack Cassel pitched six scoreless innings to pick up his first big league win as the San Diego Padres cruised to an easy 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a four-game series on Monday.
Khalil Greene hit a two-run blast for the Padres (82-67), who won their fourth straight contest to pull within one game of the Arizona Diamondbacks (83-67) in the National League West and maintain their 1 1/2 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies (81-69) in the wild card standings. The Diamondbacks suffered an 8-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Monday.
Cassel (1-0) made his second career start as a fill-in for the struggling Justin Germano, who was pulled from the starting rotation after winning just one game since the All-Star break.
"I went out there to pitch my game," Cassel said. "The coaching staff really instilled a lot of confidence in me. My goal was to just give us a quality start and an opportunity to stay in the ballgame and win, and then turn it over to our incredible bullpen."
The 27-year-old Cassel, who made his major league debut a month ago after spending nearly eight seasons in the minors, allowed eight hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
"I thought Jack threw the ball very well," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He went right at them and pitched to contact. I liked the efficiency of the outing. He showed the same poise that he did in his last start."
Doug Brocail and Heath Bell each contributed a scoreless inning before all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman collected his 38th save of the season and 520th career.
"Everybody in that bullpen has been throwing that ball incredibly well," Cassel said. "I knew that once it was my turn to turn the ball over to the bullpen, I had all the confidence in the world that those guys would pick me up."
The combined effort gave the Padres their major league-best 20th shutout of the year.
"(Cassel) has thrown well since he's been here," Greene said. "I played with him in the minor leagues for a little while and he has paid his dues, so it's nice to see him get a chance and be successful."
San Diego jumped out to an early 1-0 lead against Pittsburgh starter John Van Benschoten, when Brian Giles walked to lead off the game and scored on a double by Mike Cameron.
Greene padded the advantage with his 22nd home run of the season, a fourth-inning shot that caromed off the second deck of the Western Metals Supply Co. building in left field, giving the Padres a 3-0 edge.
Pittsburgh never mounted a serious scoring threat against Cassel, managing just one extra-base hit - a double in the fifth by Van Benschoten.
"We had baserunners, but we couldn't get follow-up hits once we had set some stages," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "We had 10 hits tonight and we don't score. I think that plus the one pitch Khalil Greene hit out of the ballpark is pretty much what the game boiled down to."
Van Benschoten (0-6) yielded three runs on five hits over five innings. The 27-year-old righthander remained winless since the 2004 season, his first and only career win. He walked three and struck out two.
"(Van Benschoten) did a very adequate job for us," Tracy said. "He gave us five pretty good innings. He hasn't started for us in a while. I think the big thing tonight was he was around the strike zone much more often tonight. He made some pitches when he had to."
Xavier Nady had a pair of hits against his former club as the Pirates dropped their third straight.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
PITTSBURGH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 0
SAN DIEGO 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 x 3 8 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: PIT - JOHN VAN BENSCHOTEN, FRANQUELIS OSORIA (6TH), JOHN GRABOW
(7TH), ROMULO SANCHEZ (8TH) AND RONNY PAULINO
SDG - JACK CASSEL, DOUG BROCAIL (7TH), HEATH BELL
Sep 18 12:20 AM
AT SAN DIEGO - SCORING UPDATE
TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY KHALIL GREENE (23) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT
IN THE 4TH OFF JOHN VAN BENSCHOTEN SCORED ADRIAN GONZALEZ.
CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0, SAN DIEGO 3
DUE UP FOR SAN DIEGO: K KOUZMANOFF (.267, 0-FOR-1)
Pirates vs. PadresSep 17 11:01 PM
AT SAN DIEGO - SCORING UPDATE
DOUBLE BY MIKE CAMERON SCORED BRIAN GILES.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M CAMERON ON SECOND, 1 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0
SAN DIEGO 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
DUE UP FOR SAN DIEGO: A GONZALEZ (.275, 26 HR, 87 RBI)
Pirates vs. PadresSep 17 10:15 PM
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