SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jedd Gyorko is starting to look like the player who showed so much promise as a rookie that the San Diego Padres gave him a $35 million contract two weeks into his second season.
Gyorko homered for the second straight game in Thursday's 6-2 loss to Shelby Miller and the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 25-year-old Gyorko is 7 for 14 in five games back from a 44-game stay on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis, including a double, two homers and six RBIs. He is still hitting just .183 but likes how he's come back from the layoff and his struggles earlier this season.
"My swings feel good," Gyorko said. "Everything feels right. I'm not thinking about it. I'm just watching the ball, trying to get a good look at it and just swinging at it. I just look for hard contact. If you get enough hard contact, good things will happen. That's kind of the basis of how hitters go. If we hit the ball hard, that's a success."
Gyorko went deep with one out in the second, hitting a drive to right against Miller for his seventh homer of the season. Will Venable added another solo shot later in the inning for his fifth of the year.
"Jedd's doing well," manager Bud Black said. "That's more like it, the opposite-field power. We saw it a number of times last year. He's swinging better and no complaints about the foot. He's in a good spot. It's good to see that he's having good at-bats and gaining confidence."
Miller and three relievers combined on a three-hitter, and Oscar Taveras hit a two-run homer for the Cardinals, who avoided a three-game series sweep.
The Cardinals acquired right-hander John Lackey from Boston just before the trade deadline to bolster their rotation. They begin a big series against NL Central-leading Milwaukee on Friday in St. Louis.
Miller (8-8) allowed two runs and three hits in six innings in his first win since June 7.
St. Louis roughed up rookie Odrisamer Despaigne a day after playing what manager Mike Matheny called the team's ugliest loss of the season, a 12-1 defeat Wednesday night.
The Cardinals grabbed a 4-2 lead on Matt Holliday's two-run single in the third, and Peter Bourjos added an RBI single in the sixth.
Despaigne (2-3) allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. He won his first two starts but is 0-3 in his last five outings.
Padres: Catcher Yasmani Grandal was scratched because of some fluid that built up in his right knee, which was surgically repaired last year after a collision at the plate.
"When he squatted in the bullpen, it shifted to the back of the knee and it sort of buckled him a bit," Black said. "He was in quite a bit of pain squatting."
Black said Grandal should be fine to catch Friday night against Atlanta.
Cardinals: Adam Wainwright (13-5, 1.92 ERA) gets the ball in the opener of an important home series against NL Central-leading Milwaukee on Friday night. Wainwright Is 10-6 with 2.19 ERA in 27 career games against the Brewers.
Padres: Eric Stults (3-13, 5.22 ERA) pitches in the opener of a weekend set against Atlanta. The left-hander has won only once in last 13 starts.
LANE TO EL-PASO
Left-hander Jason Lane cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A El Paso. On Monday, the 37-year-old Lane, an outfielder turned pitcher, became the oldest San Diego player to make his big league debut as a starter. He had been called up from Triple-A to start for ailing Ian Kennedy.
"We're happy to keep him in the organization," assistant general manager A.J. Hinch said. "He pitched well in Atlanta and he's pitched well every time we've called him up."