Headley's slam leads Padres past Diamondbacks 8-2
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Chase Headley put a mighty swing on a fastball from Takashi Saito, watched for a moment as it sailed toward the right-field seats, raised his right arm in celebration and then started his home run trot.
He knew it was gone, and it wasn't just any homer for Headley, the switch-hitting slugger who's having a breakout season for the San Diego Padres.
Headley hit a grand slam to extend his career-bests to 27 homers and an NL-high 102 RBIs, and Carlos Quentin followed with a homer for San Diego's first back-to-back shots this season as the Padres beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-2 Sunday.
"It was neat," Headley said. "There's not a lot of balls that I hit here that I know for sure are home runs when I hit them. Yeah, I hit that one pretty good."
In previous seasons, Headley has been criticized for not putting up the kind of power numbers expected of a third baseman. Now, the switch-hitter seems to be making up for lost time with a more aggressive approach.
Batting left-handed, Headley drove an 0-1 pitch from Saito several rows into the stands with two outs in the seventh to give the Padres a 7-1 lead. It was his second grand slam this season and third of his career.
It is the Padres' first 100-RBI season since Adrian Gonzalez had 101 in 2010 and the 18th in club history.
"It was a great feeling," Headley said. "Obviously that's a number along the way that means quite a bit. To be able to share that with my teammates and to get over the hump with a grand slam, just a great feeling."
John Baker drew a one-out walk and Chris Denorfia kept the inning alive when he reached on second baseman Aaron Hill's two-out fielding error, which made all five runs that inning unearned. Logan Forsythe walked ahead of Headley's slam.
Headley homered twice in Friday night's win against the Diamondbacks, once from each side of the plate, and drove in four runs. His 19 homers and 60 RBIs since the All-Star break lead the big leagues. Overall, his 15 games of three or more RBIs lead the majors.
Headley had gone 0 for 3 until his slam.
"They're trying to get me out, and that's the great thing about our lineup right now is they can't just sit there and pitch around me because we have other guys who are swinging the bat so well," Headley said. "That's the only way you can have an accomplishment like that is having the rest of the guys doing such a great job around me."
Headley's previous highs were 12 homers and 64 RBIs in 2009.
Headley's 60 RBIs in the second half tie him with hitting coach Phil Plantier (1993) for second-most by a Padres player in the second half of a season. That trails only the 81 RBIs that Ken Caminiti had during the second half of 1996, when he won the NL MVP.