STL@SD: Padres defense turns in outstanding plays

SAN DIEGO -- Every club in the big leagues emphasizes having solid infield defense, so the Padres being pleased with their glovework shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

But in San Diego, the sparkling play around the diamond takes on a bit more significance.

The Friars play their home games in Petco Park, where runs are scarce, and they do so with a pitching staff that tends to pitch to contact -- especially ground-ball contact.

With that in mind, the dazzling play of Chase Headley at third and Everth Cabrera at short this season has been nothing short of imperative. Rookie Jedd Gyorko hasn't missed a beat in his transition to second from third base, and manager Bud Black believes first baseman Yonder Alonso is on the path to becoming a Gold Glover.

"That's the whole point of a team," Gyorko said. "Each person has to be accountable for their part. With guys like [Jason] Marquis or [Eric] Stults, we want them to pitch to contact. Get the ball in the zone early, and let them hit it. Let us make the plays. It all works together."

There was no better example than in the sixth inning of Monday night's 4-2 victory over St. Louis. As is typical, Marquis induced a couple of ground balls -- the first a diving stop by Headley that was picked brilliantly by Alonso at first, and the second a backhand stab by Cabrera, who threw on the run to get Yadier Molina.

Right now, Headley -- the reigning National League Gold Glove Award winner at third base -- ranks second among NL third basemen in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), according to Fangraphs, and Alonso ranks third among first basemen. Cabrera's splits have improved immensely from last season, and Gyorko has drawn praise from the Padres' coaching staff for his ability to adapt.

"This group here is really fun to watch," Black said. "And it's going to be fun to watch for years to come."

Quentin rests sore knee after awkward slide

STL@SD: Denorfia's single ties the game in the sixth

SAN DIEGO -- Carlos Quentin is not in the lineup for Tuesday night's game against the Cardinals.

He has a sore knee after sliding awkwardly into home plate Monday, scoring the tying run on a sixth-inning single by Chris Denorfia.

Quentin missed time earlier this season with a knee injury and has played in 30 of the team's 44 games. He's off to a slow start this season, hitting .178 on the year with four homers and 14 RBIs.

Padres manager Bud Black said Quentin was fine and would be back in the lineup on Wednesday.

"We're going to manage his usage and maximize everything we can with his playing time," Black said.

Venable finding power stroke at Petco Park

STL@SD: Padres get insurance run on Venable's homer

SAN DIEGO -- What's impressed manager Bud Black the most about Will Venable's recent power surge has been the pitches that the Padres' outfielder is hitting for home runs. Some have been high fastballs -- like the one to lead off the seventh inning on Monday -- others on breaking balls or changeups.

"That's what I like," Black said. "The ability to hit with power against all pitches."

Venable's seven home runs lead the team as he has homered in back-to-back games at Petco Park. At home this season, Venable is hitting .282 with six home runs and an OPS of .938.

"I have been able to square some balls up and my swing just kind of has that trajectory," Venable said. "When I am squaring them up, they're going out of the park instead of more line drives."

Black spoke highly of Venable's power and said he could hold his own with teammates if they had a competition to see who could hit the ball farthest.

Venable also has eight stolen bases on the year.

"That's a dangerous combination, when you have a guy with the ability to steal bases and also power," Black said. "The pitcher thinks about that."

For reasons he couldn't explain, Venable said he's been a slow starter during the first month of the season. He's hitting .278 this month after starting off at .206 in April.

"Hopefully I can continue to trend upward," Venable said.

Worth noting

Clayton Richard made his second rehab start on Tuesday night for Triple-A Tucson. He worked six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. He threw 94 pitches, 65 for strikes in a no-decision.