SAN DIEGO — The rebuilding San Diego Padres have made up two spots in the NL West in two games, thanks largely to two rookies.
Joey Lucchesi struck out nine in six innings, Christian Villanueva homered, doubled and drove in three runs, and the Padres cruised past San Francisco 10-1 on Sunday to beat the Giants for the third straight game.
Jose Pirela was a home run short of the cycle and had three RBIs for the Padres, who have won five of seven. They leapfrogged the Giants into third place, by percentage points. San Francisco has lost four of five.
Lucchesi (2-0) was sharp in outpitching Tyler Beede (0-1) in a matchup of 24-year-old rookies. Lucchesi walked none and his nine strikeouts were his most in four big league starts. The lefty allowed one run and five hits.
“He’s good,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “It’s fun to watch him pitch. He definitely didn’t want to come out after six innings; he wanted to keep going. I told him he needs to pace himself a little bit. He said, ‘I need to get a hit.’ On the pitching side he feels real good; on the hitting side he has some work to do.”
Lucchesi struck out twice, dropping to 0 for 8.
“I’m struggling on that,” he said. “I need to get a hit. I need to practice more. I don’t know what’s going on.”
His pitching, though, was outstanding.
“I felt locked in. I felt good,” Lucchesi said.
The 6-foot-5, 227-pounder has a deceptive windup and throws a “churve,” a combination changeup-curveball.
“It’s my go-to pitch and I hope they never learn how to hit it,” he said.
Lucchesi grew up in Newark in the East Bay and was an Oakland A’s fan.
“I never really liked the Giants. I was never a fan. I grew up like 30 minutes from San Francisco. Striking out a close hometown team feels pretty good.”
Lucchesi became the first pitcher from the 2016 draft class to reach the majors after Dinelson Lamet hurt his right elbow in his final spring training start for the Padres. Lucchesi got a no-decision in his big league debut March 30 against Milwaukee and again in a home start versus the Rockies on April 5 before earning his first win at Colorado on Tuesday.
Lamet will have reconstructive elbow surgery this week.
Lucchesi is doing “everything he possibly can, except hit,” to cement a spot in the rotation, Green said. “He’s been great. He’s a guy that, watching film last year, talking to our minor league guys, listening to them talk, they knew he was going to come quicker than the rest and he’s proving why right now. He throws strikes, he’s got offspeed when he needs it, he can punch guys out. That’s a great recipe. There’s a lot of deception there.”
Beede lasted only 3⅔ innings, permitting five runs and six hits while striking out six and walking three.
Villanueva hit a two-run double in the third and homered off Josh Osich leading off the fifth, his fifth. Villanueva also homered in a 5-4 win Saturday night.
“I think I’m going up there now to look at my pitch and not the pitcher’s pitch,” Villanueva said.