SAN DIEGO — This might be the Will Venable that the San Diego Padres have been waiting on for quite some time.
Venable hit a leadoff home run in the ninth inning to give San Diego a 4-3 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday, Aug. 18.
He sent a 1-2 slider from Pedro Feliciano (0-2) just inside the right-field foul pole for his team-high 17th home run, increasing his career high.
“I bunted (Saturday night) and I got a chance to see some sliders from (Feliciano),” Venable said. “I had an idea what it looked like. He threw me two fastballs before that pitch. In the back of my mind, I was hoping he was going to throw me a slider and he threw one that caught enough of the plate and I hit it out.”
Venable, who also drove in a run in the fifth, extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the majors.
“Will’s amazing with the way he has been swinging,” Padres starting pitcher Eric Stults, a Middlebury, Ind., resident, said. “It’s not only swinging the bat but it’s his defensive play and stealing bases. He’s doing everything. He’s playing like a five-tool player. When he comes to bat, we’re expecting him to do something and (Sunday) he did.”
Venable, the Padres’ talented but enigmatic outfielder, followed a four-hit game in an 8-2 win Saturday night with his first career game-ending homer.
“He went down and got it,” Feliciano said. “It was low, but in, and kind of went middle-in, and he dove and got it straight up and it went out. It was surprising.”
Huston Street (1-4) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.
Matt Harvey tossed six solid innings for the Mets and regained the NL lead in strikeouts. New York split the four-game series and is 4-6 on an 11-game road trip, its longest of the season.
Harvey, who did not walk a batter, had his 16th no-decision but lowered his ERA to 2.25, second-best in the majors behind Clayton Kershaw’s 1.80.
“It’s been happening quite a bit,” Harvey said about the no-decisions. “I need to go out and not give up runs like I did in the fifth inning. If I don’t do that, maybe I’m still in the game.”
The 30-year-old Venable is playing in his fourth full season with San Diego and has played parts of five seasons with the club. But he has never experienced the kind of success he has had this season, particularly in the second half.
Since the All-Star break, Venable is hitting .370 in 27 games. The lefty’s last three homers have come off left-handers after he hit only five in his career against southpaws before his current streak.
Venable said he has “focused on my rhythm at the plate, which allows me to throw everything out the window as far as going up there with a check list trying to figure out what I am doing physically.”
“I’m going up there and just seeing the ball and hitting it,” he said.
Said Padres manager Bud Black: “He has conviction in what he is doing.”
Yonder Alonso led off the San Diego eighth with a walk against Gonzalez German and went to third on Chase Headley’s one-out double. Chris Denorfia’s infield single scored Alonso to tie the score 3-all.
Feliciano relieved and, after a groundout, intentionally walked Nick Hundley to load the bases. Jaff Decker flied out to end the inning.
Pinch-hitter Andrew Brown followed a two-out double by Omar Quintanilla with an RBI double off the center-field fence against Eric Stults in the seventh to put the Mets ahead 3-2.
Harvey rebounded from a subpar outing, allowing two runs and six hits. He struck out six to increase his season total to 187, five more than Kershaw.
The right-hander lost his previous start 4-2 to the Dodgers, giving up four runs and eight hits in six innings with a season-low three strikeouts.
Stults permitted three runs and six hits over 6 2-3 innings.
Justin Turner reached on a one-out double in the New York first and scored on Marlon Byrd’s double. Wilmer Flores added a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
San Diego tied the score at 2 after Logan Forsythe was hit by a pitch leading off the fifth and Hundley singled. Following a sacrifice bunt, Venable’s infield single brought home one run and Alexi Amarista’s sacrifice fly knocked in the second.
Mets manager Terry Collins hasn’t decided who will fill RHP Jenrry Mejia’s spot in the rotation. Mejia was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a sore right elbow, and New York called up RHP Greg Burke from Triple-A Las Vegas. Asked if Mejia’s season might be over due to a bone spur, Collins said: “I can’t say I know for sure, but it certainly doesn’t look very good. There has been plans to do surgery on his bone spurs in the offseason, and now I would assume more sooner than later.” ... The slumping Headley, who was given Saturday off, batted fifth for the first time this season. ... The Mets head to Minnesota to play a makeup game Monday afternoon, with RHP Dillon Gee (8-8, 3.79 ERA) facing RHP Kyle Gibson (2-3, 6.27). ... San Diego hosts Pittsburgh on Monday night, with RHP Andrew Cashner (8-7, 3.87) facing Pirates LHP Francisco Liriano (13-5, 2.68).