Ryan Ludwick homers twice to reach 100 for career as Padres win

SAN DIEGO -- Ryan Ludwick admitted to manager Bud Black a few days ago that he's been pressing.

Black had a one-word answer: "Relax."

Taking his manager's advice, Ludwick hit his first two homers with San Diego, reaching 100 for his career and leading the Padres to a 4-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

"That's human nature, to come to a new club and want to do well," Black said about Ludwick, acquired from St. Louis in a three-team trade on July 31. "You just try a little too hard, no matter who you are. He'll be fine.

"Hopefully this will help ease him into a new environment. We're excited to have him," Black said.

"You come over and definitely don't want to mess anything up," Ludwick said. "They've got something going really special over here. I just want to help out. I think at times it's human nature, you kind of try to do a little too much at times. I'm just glad tonight it clicked a little bit."

Ludwick hit a line shot to left on Jeff Karstens' first pitch of the second, then hit a towering fly ball to straightaway center on an 0-1 pitch off Wil Ledezma leading off the seventh for a 3-1 lead. Ludwick has 13 homers this season.

"It's kind of comforting knowing that I can hit a ball out of this ballpark," Ludwick said with a laugh, referring to the spacious outfield at Petco Park that has frustrated other Padres sluggers.

San Diego's Wade LeBlanc tied his career high with eight strikeouts to win for just the second time in six starts. Karstens, making his first start in his hometown, lost his sixth straight decision.

"First pitch to Ludwick, I was just trying to throw a strike," Karstens said. "He didn't hit it hard but you hit it like that in this ballpark and it's still a home run."

"As long as he's hitting home runs, I don't care who's pitching," LeBlanc said. "If he's hitting home runs, that means we're scoring runs. It's awesome having somebody with that kind of sock that can hit behind Gonzo and take a little pressure off Adrian," he said, referring to slugger Adrian Gonzalez.

The NL West-leading Padres (65-46) have the best record in the NL while the Pirates (39-73) have the worst.

LeBlanc got his first career RBI with a two-out single to left-center in the second that brought in Yorvit Torrealba, who walked and advanced on Chris Denorfia's slow roller for an infield single. Denorfia was thrown out trying to take third on LeBlanc's single.

Pittsburgh's Jose Tabata reached with two outs in the third when his grounder glanced off second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr.'s glove. It was ruled a hit. Neil Walker followed with a walk and Pedro Alvarez singled in Tabata.

Hairston had an RBI infield single in the eighth.

LeBlanc (6-10) allowed one run and five hits in 5 2/3 innings, with two walks. Karstens (2-8) allowed two runs and three hits in six innings, struck out three and walked one.

Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 35 chances.

"He threw a good game," Pittsburgh manager John Russell said of Karstens. "He kept us in it. He was pretty efficient. He did what we needed him to do. We just didn't get much offense. Guys were trying to do something big but were getting away from themselves a little bit."

Karstens, who grew up in suburban Spring Valley, said he had more than 200 family members and friends at the game.

Game notes
Padres RHP Chris Young said he felt good after throwing 40 pitches in a bullpen session as he continues to work his way back from a strained shoulder that has forced him to miss all but one start this season. Young's next bullpen session is scheduled for Friday in San Francisco before the Padres open a three-game series against the Giants, their closest pursuers in the division. Young went on the disabled list on April 12, a move that was retroactive to April 7. He had arthroscopic surgery last August. ... LeBlanc has struck out eight batters three times, most recently on June 29 against Colorado. ... LeBlanc is 12 for 37 (.324) this season. ... Ludwick had his 11th career multihomer game; all have been two-homer games. His most recent was June 7 at the Los Angeles Dodgers. ... Miguel Tejada went 0 for 4 to drop to 8 for 41 (.195) with three RBIs in 10 games with the Padres.