By BERNIE WILSON, AP Sports Writer
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Hunter Renfroe couldn’t help but admire his pinch-hit, go-ahead grand slam as it flew toward the brick warehouse in the left-field corner at Petco Park.
He held his bat out with his left hand for a moment before flipping it and beginning his trot.
“I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it, so I was thinking, ‘Get around the bases without falling,'” Renfroe said after his slam lifted Tyson Ross and the San Diego Padres to a 6-3 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
The Padres took two of three in the matchup of last-place teams. This series victory came after the Padres took three of four from the NL’s other last-place team, the Miami Marlins.
Batting for Ross, Renfroe drove a 1-2 pitch from Luis Castillo (4-6) off the second deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building to give the Padres a 4-2 lead with one out in the fifth inning. It was Renfroe’s third career grand slam, first for the Padres this season and his first career pinch homer. It was his third homer this season.
Renfroe came off the disabled list Monday. He missed more than a month with an inflamed right elbow.
Coming off the bench, Renfroe said he was “just going out there and seeing the ball as well as I can, try to hit the ball in the air. The guy was throwing 97 with sink, so he was obviously doing very well up to that point. Just go out there and hunt strikes and do the best I can. I was trying to be as quick as possible to the ball and just stay through it as long as possible.”
Castillo had loaded the bases on singles by Franmil Reyes and Freddy Galvis, and a walk to Manuel Margot. Reyes was forced at home on Raffy Lopez’s dribbler before Renfroe’s slam.
“Impressive by Hunter,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “Got three sliders from him I think; third slider he’d seen enough and got out front and got it down the line. It was as good a swing as we’ve had all year.”
Said Castillo: “I didn’t execute that pitch. He put a good swing on it and he hit a grand slam. I was focused on getting a ground ball to turn a double play but sometimes things don’t go the way you want to and he hit a homer.
Interim Reds manager Jim Riggleman said the game “turned on us real quick. They put four on the board and such a huge hit by Renfroe.”
Ross (5-3) gave up two runs and seven hits in five innings, struck out three and walked two. He’s won three straight decisions, over four starts.
He allowed Eugenio Suarez’s leadoff homer to left in the second, his 11th, and Scooter Gennett’s RBI single in the fifth.
With the Padres leading 5-2, Green had closer Brad Hand face the heart of the Reds’ order in the eighth, including lefty-hitting Joey Votto and Gennett. Votto, who had three hits, struck out, but Hand then allowed a homer to Gennett, his 12th. Suarez struck out, Adam Duvall singled and Jose Peraza flied out.
Cory Spangenberg homered for San Diego in the eighth, his fourth.
Kirby Yates pitched the ninth for his first save. Votto came up with two on and two outs and grounded out to end it.
Castillo (4-6) allowed four runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, struck out three and walked one.
“I was pitching really good for the first inning then after that I don’t know what happened in the fifth and I lost the battle today,” he said.
Lopez hit an RBI single in the sixth.
Padres: Rookie 3B Christian Villanueva left the game after fouling a ball off his left ankle in the first inning. He was replaced by Cory Spangenberg. Villanueva also fouled a ball off his left ankle on Friday night but stayed in the game. Villanueva has 15 homers, second in the NL behind Bryce Harper’s 18.
Reds: RHP Sal Romano (3-6, 6.00) is scheduled to start the opener of a three-game home series against Colorado on Tuesday night. Colorado will counter with LHP Kyle Freeland (5-5, 3.43).
Padres: LHP Clayton Richard (3-6, 4.74) is scheduled to start the opener of a three-game home series against NL East leader Atlanta on Monday night. He is 2-2 with a 3.22 ERA in his last five starts, with 29 strikeouts and five walks. The Braves will counter with RHP Julio Teheran (4-3, 4.03).
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