Wednesday, June 04, 2014
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Ex-OF Lane Shines On Mound In Padres' Loss To Pirates

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[June 04, 2014]  SAN DIEGO -- Two-run homers by Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez powered the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night at Petco Park.

However, perhaps the biggest victory of the night belonged to Padres left-handed reliever Jason Lane, who made his major league pitching debut almost seven years since he last appeared as an outfielder.

Lane, operating in relief of right-hander Jesse Hahn, who appeared in his first big league game, retired all 10 Pirates he faced, including three by strikeouts.

"I knew right away who it was," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Lane. "He was an outfielder. There was some barrel to his bat. I saw him hit a couple out.

"Tonight he showed a feel to his pitching. He slowed the game down. He hid his fastball and used a very effective changeup. He flat-out pitched out there and kept them in the game."

The 37-year-old Lane, who converted from the outfield to pitching in 2011, entered the game with two outs and two on in the fourth and struck out Walker, the Pirates' second baseman. He remained perfect over the next three innings.
 


"That was neat," Lane said. "I was surprised. I was a lot calmer than I thought I would be. I was more nervous when I hit in the sixth than I was when I was on the mound.

"I don't think I could have ever expected it to go like that. All I know is that there's been a lot of hard work and ups and downs."

After playing 497 games in the major leagues and hitting 61 homers as an outfielder from 2002-07, Lane re-launched his career as a pitcher in the independent leagues before the Padres signed him to a minor league contract last season.

Lane was 3-2 with a 4.36 ERA in 11 starts with Triple-A El Paso before the Padres promoted him Monday to replenish a bullpen that saw six relievers throw 138 pitches the night before.

"Jason did a great job," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He did what we needed him to do. He kept people off balance with his fastball and change."

By the time Lane entered the game, the Pirates had a 4-0 lead thanks to the home runs Walker and third baseman Alvarez hit off the 24-year-old Hahn, who was promoted from Double-A San Antonio to make the start.

Walker ended a scoreless tie with an opposite-field drive into the left field seats with two out in the third. Walker's 11th homer of the season came off a one-strike, 75-mph curve.

"I thought I made a good pitch to Walker," Hahn said.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer opened the third with a single, although he was forced at second on pitcher Gerrit Cole's attempted sacrifice bunt. Walker connected on his 381-foot drive after Hahn struck out left fielder Josh Harrison.

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An inning later, Alvarez pulled a fastball 364 feet into the seats in right. Alvarez's 11th homer of the season followed a leadoff walk drawn by catcher Russell Martin.

"I threw it to his sweet spot," Hahn said of Alvarez.

Hahn allowed four runs on six hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out five, and his fastball topped out at 95 mph. He threw 79 pitches, higher than his total in any minor league game this season.

Meanwhile, Cole (6-3) held the Padres to one run on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. Right-hander Jason Grilli picked up his third save with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth.

Cole held the Padres to a second-inning double by right fielder Will Venable and two walks through five innings.

The Padres mounted a two-out rally in the sixth with consecutive singles by third baseman Chase Headley, left fielder Seth Smith and first baseman Yonder Alonso to get on the board and chase Cole. Mercer halted the rally by making a nice stop on Jedd Gyorko's sharp grounder up the middle, and he threw out the Padres second baseman at first to end the inning.

Five Pirates pitchers combined to hold the Padres to four hits.

The win was the Pirates' third straight and their fifth in the last six games, while the Padres lost a third straight game.

NOTES: The Pirates named RHP Brandon Cumpton (0-2, 6.85 ERA) as the starter for Friday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers in Pittsburgh, ending speculation that the rookie might be skipped from his next start. ... To make room for RHP Jesse Hahn and LHP Jason Lane on the roster, the Padres optioned RHP Donn Roach to Triple-A El Paso and placed LHP Eric Stults on bereavement leave.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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