ATLANTA — The homer (and some insurance runs) did it this time.
It saved the Padres from their first losing streak in nearly a month. It saved Wil Myers from having to lament a costly blunder. It saved Robert Suarez from shouldering the weight of another lost lead.
Ha-seong Kim, after a series of long and far outs in the past couple weeks, finally put one where no one could catch it — into the visitors’ bullpen beyond left field — to put the Padres on top for good, and three relievers and four runs in the ninth inning kept them there in an 11-6 victory over the Braves on Friday.
Myers also homered, and the Padres have hit five in the past two games after not hitting that many in the previous nine games.
Where their three homers couldn’t make the difference in Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to the Cubs because Luis Garcia allowed two runs in the eighth inning, Garcia was among the trio of relievers who held the Braves scoreless the final three innings.
Garcia worked a scoreless seventh, Steven Wilson got two outs in the eighth and Taylor Rogers moved into a tie for the National League lead by earning the first four-out save among his 13 saves on the season.
That all turned a topsy-turvy affair into something of a rout.
The Padres took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on a single by Kim, double by Austin Nola and sacrifice fly by Jose Azocar. The game was tied in the bottom of the inning on William Contreras’ home run. Eric Hosmer’s bases-loaded single in the fifth made it 3-1 before the Braves got another run in the bottom of the inning. Myers’ first home run of the season made it 4-2 in the sixth. Dansby Swanson’s three-run homer in the seventh sent most of the 40,635 fans at Truist Park into a tomahawk-chopping frenzy. Kim’s eighth-inning blast quieted them.
The ninth inning sent many of them for the exits despite the promise of a postgame fireworks show.
Myers made it 8-6 in the ninth with a sacrifice fly that drove in Hosmer, who was 3 for 5 and took over the league batting average lead from Manny Machado. Trent Grisham’s pinch-hit double cleared loaded bases to make for the final margin.
The Padres, who tied a season high with 16 hits, have not lost two games in a row since dropping the middle games of a four-game series against the Braves on April 15 and 16. They were 15-6 from April 16 through Wednesday’s loss to the Cubs. They have followed all six of those losses with at least one victory.
There would have plenty of blame to go around had this turned out differently.
The bullpen didn’t wait until the eighth inning to let go of a lead this time but neither could Myers hold onto a pop fly he probably shouldn’t have been trying to catch.
And there were plenty of failed opportunities to score too.
The Padres led much of the night, but they once again could have led by much more had they started better than 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. (They finished 4 for 12.)
And when the sixth inning was prolonged by Myers covering 123 feet on a sprint and having a ball go off his glove as he slid to try to make a catch between Hosmer and second baseman Jake Cronenworth, disaster ensued.
Cronenworth, who had been playing behind second base in the shift, had appeared to be bearing down to make the catch but pull off as Myers called for the ball.
However the Bermuda Triangle pop-up became what was ruled a single, it led to the Braves taking a 6-5 lead when Contreras singled, driving Yu Darvish from the game, and Swanson hit a three-run homer off Robert Suarez to put the Braves up 6-5.
The defending world champions came into the game two games below .500 after winning three of their previous four.
As the Padres did with Darvish, the Braves had their opening-day starter on the mound. Max Fried allowed eight hits on opening day and seven hits in his next start but had not yielded more than four hits and had gone at least six innings in each of his four starts leading up to Friday.
Fried went six innings again, allowing four runs on nine hits. Darvish fell an out short and was charged with five runs on nine hits when the pair of runners he left on base scored on Swanson’s homer.
Darvish had gone at least six innings in four consecutive starts. The first of those was against the Braves on April 17, when he held them to a run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings on April 17. Seven of the players in Friday’s lineup started that game at Petco Park.
Jurickson Profar had kept the Braves from taking an early lead when he threw out Travis Demeritte trying to score from second on Ozuna’s two-out single in the first inning. It was Profar’s sixth assist, tying him with the Guardians Myles Straw for the major league lead among outfielders.©2022 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.