Padres' Peavy heeds the call

When there is a need for victory, the San Diego Padres turn to their ace Jake Peavy - and that is fine with him, fly ball on the middle finger or not.

Jake Peavy wants to be "a" pitcher the Padres can count upon.

"All of us feel the same way," Peavy said recently of his partners in the Padres rotation. "I guess I'm just a little more vocal. I don't mean it to be disrespectful. I just want the ball and help us win."

Any way possible. Any time he's called upon. Even when the middle finger on his pitching hand is black-and-blue and throbbing as it was Sunday in Washington when Peavy pitched his second complete-game shutout of the season.

The win was Peavy's second in a week. And in both, he hit as well as pitched while leading the resurgent Padres.

On Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, Peavy took the mound with the Padres in the midst of a four-game losing streak that had dropped them to 1-12 over the last 13 games. The slump not only dropped the Padres below .500, it had knocked them out of first in the National League West.

Peavy responded by allowing the Pirates three runs on seven hits over seven innings. He also went 2-for-3, driving in one run and scoring a second.

Peavy was looking forward to Sunday's start in Washington when a freak accident almost derailed him.

The right-hander was in the outfield as usual during batting practice Friday shagging fly balls when a line drive ricocheted off the outfield wall at RFK Stadium and struck Peavy on his pitching hand. The impact left the finger swollen, bruised and sore.

But Peavy, who earlier this season pitched days after contracting an upper respiratory infection that bordered on pneumonia, vowed to pitch "unless my finger is broken." X-rays showed he had ducked that bullet.

So Peavy took the mound as scheduled Sunday and blanked the Nationals on five hits. He struck out 10 -- including eight in a span of 10 outs between the fifth and eighth innings -- to at least temporarily take the National League's strikeout lead.

More than that, Peavy singled home the Padres' first run in a 3-0 victory that capped a 5-1 road trip.

"I didn't feel great by any means," said Peavy, who was restricted mostly to using fastballs and changeups Sunday. "But we definitely didn't want to be under .500 again (the win pushed the division-leading Padres to 56-55). We felt embarrassed when we played the way we did before to slip like that."

Said Padres manager Bruce Bochy: "We're going to slam a car door on his hand before his next start to get him ready."

Have a question about a prospect in the San Diego Padres' system. Send John Conniff an email at Some questions will be forwarded and answered on air during weekly segment on the flagship station for San Diego Padres' baseball, The Mighty 1090. The show airs each Friday at 10:35 AM PST with Brian Wilson and Ernie Martinez.

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