News from the Venezuelan League; Bush winner

The Padres have a few players in the Venezuelan Summer League that are making some noise. Most notably, a player who hit .190 in the Dominican Summer League last year has begun the year with a .370 average. R.D. Spiehs had been pitching well with Portland but blew a lead on Friday. Geoff Jones was tagged for five, while Jared Wells continues to pitch well. Matt Bush drove in the game-winner in the tenth for Fort Wayne.

Venezuelan Summer League Update

Our once a week update of the VSL has begun with three Padre prospects who are excelling as members of the split squad VSL Padres/Red Sox.

Outfielder Darrell Walters, signed as nondrafted free agent by the Padres on July 2, 2003, leads the team in hits with 20, runs scored with 15 and his 13 RBI's rank second on the team through 13 games. He has also stolen five bases for the club. He has notched six multi-hit games this year with a .370 average.

Through three starts, Carlos Contreras has a 0.77 ERA for the Venezuelan team. Contreras spent the 2004 season as a relief pitcher, appearing in 27 games and registering seven saves with a 2.27 ERA. In 11.2 innings of work this year, Contreras has limited the opposition to a .175 average against.

Switch-hitter Luis Durango is hitting .353 through 12 games this season. He leads the club with nine stolen bases and has walked nine times to pace the club with a .545 on base percentage. His 12 runs scored rank second on the team.

Portland lost 6-5

While Josh Barfield extended his hitting streak to six, J.J. Furmaniak pushed his to five in more impressive fashion. Furmaniak went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored to give him eight runs scored and six extra base hits over the streak. It is his third three-hit night in the last five after netting three three-plus hit nights over his first 47 games.

Michel Hernandez went 2-for-5 and has had three multi-hit games in his last four contests, one less than he had in his previous 36 games. The catcher is hitting .309 since the beginning of May to raise his average to a season-high .265. He has also thrown out three of the last five runners attempting to steal after throwing out just two of the previous 17.

R.D. Spiehs had bounced back nicely from struggles in Mobile with his promotion to Portland. Renewed confidence had him soaring until Friday when he suffered a slight setback. Back in the familiar role of pitching the eighth inning – a bridge to Brad Baker – Spiehs allowed two runs on a homer that tied the game and allowed a run in the bottom of the ninth that led to the loss. Spiehs had held the opposition to a .229 average coming in until he allowed three hits and two walks on Friday in an inning and a third.

Mobile lost 8-3

The start of the game was delayed due to rain, yet Sean Thompson was able to go six innings, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks. Thompson has given up four earned runs over his last three starts after beginning his Mobile career with nine earned runs over his first eight innings of work. Thompson has walked three batters in eight of his 11 starts and the opposition is hitting .309 off him in Double-A. Thompson was also 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored, one of two BayBears with two hits on the night.

Geoffrey Jones was brutally beat up on Friday. He allowed five runs on five hits and two walks in his inning of work, taking the loss. Jones has allowed runs in 12 of his 25 appearances this year. Hitters are batting .356 off the left-hander this year and nine of 15 inherited runners have scored off the reliever.

Joe Gerber got his first start since May 4 when he was with Portland. While he has appeared in 32 games, he has just ten starts. Gerber logged his second multi-hit game of the year – April 26 was his last – and hit his first homer of the season as well. He was also credited with an outfield assist in the sixth when he rifled a ball into Casey Baker who relayed it to home to catch a runner attempting to score.

Lake Elsinore won 10-2

Jared Wells won his fourth straight decision with a six inning, two run performance. He allowed five hits and walked four, the second game in a row that he has issued a free pass to four hitters. He has allowed two earned runs or less in three of his past four starts and has surrendered three runs or less in each of his past five trips to the mound. He has limited the opposition to a .255 average against in 11 starts.

On a night when every Storm batter recorded a hit and six notched RBI's, George Kottaras went 3-for-5 with a double, a homer and three RBI's as the designated hitter on Friday, just the second time this year in the DH role. Kottaras had just two extra base hits over his previous 17 games. He had spent ten days with an average that dipped under .300 after hitting .279 during the month of May. He is now at .305 for the year.

Chris Tierney made his second appearance in relief and was stellar, striking out three in two innings of work and yielding just one double. Tierney had struggled as a starter this year as hitters batted .340 off him when he took the hill to open the game with 38 runs, 30 earned, in 45.2 innings of work. In his first relief appearance he had allowed two runs over one inning of work.

Matt Thayer was placed on the disabled list with a groin injury. The Padres signed Adam Bourassa to take his place. Bourassa was hitting .204 in 31 games with Bakersfield before being released.

Fort Wayne won 4-3 in 10 innings

Despite tying a season-high with ten hits allowed, Joel Santo limited the opposition to three runs over six innings of work. Santo did not issue a walk – and no Wizard pitcher who entered the game walked a batter. Santo has allowed three earned runs or less in each of his past four starts, eight earned runs over 24 innings.

Matt Bush had one hit on the day but it was the most important hit of the game. After the Wizards scored one run in the seventh, eighth, and ninth to tie the game at 3-3, Bush hit a two-out single to drive in Lachlan Dale in the tenth, securing the win. Bush is hitting a season-high .246 but the RBI was his second in the last 11 games. He is hitting .284 since May 5 but over the last 21 games he has just one extra base hit. He did add his fifth stolen base of the year and committed his 16th error.

Sean Kazmar went 3-for-5 with a double and a game-tying homer in the ninth inning. It was the first time this year Kazmar has had two extra base hits in the same game and it was the first homer in 24 games for the second baseman. He also scored two runs – the first time he has accomplished the feat in 33 games and only the second time this year.

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