SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Trevor Hoffman's 2008 season started much better than '07 ended.
The 40-year-old Hoffman earned his 525th career save on Tuesday night, pitching the ninth inning in the San Diego Padres' 2-1 win over the Houston Astros.It was Hoffman's first since blowing two saves over the final three games last season, including in an epic 13-inning, 9-8 loss to the Colorado Rockies in the wild-card tiebreaker game on Oct. 1 at Coors Field.Hoffman got a nice ovation from the crowd as he jogged in from the bullpen."Tremendous fan base," Hoffman said. "I think it was more than just a first-appearance kind of cheer. It was, 'We're behind you, that's how we're going to show you.'"As is usual with Hoffman, it wasn't without some drama. Hunter Pence beat Hoffman to the bag for a two-out out infield single before Hoffman struck out Lance Berkman to end the game."You try not to make any particular opportunity greater than others, but the first of the season is always important, the meaning of it," said Hoffman, who wasn't needed in Monday night's 4-0 season-opening win. "The start of the '08 season was very important. Tight ballgame. The team played well tonight. Those are the ones that you want to try and preserve."The Padres needed to win just one of their final three games in 2007 to reach the postseason for the third straight year, but lost all three."I don't think any of us in here have any doubt about who Trevor Hoffman is and how good he is," said right-hander Chris Young, who won his season debut thanks to Scott Hairston's two-run homer. "If we're overly happy for Trevor, I don't think that's the case. I think we all expect Trevor to go out there and be successful."Hoffman threw a fastball that topped out at 87 mph and a changeup that clocked 76 mph.Hairston's 393-foot drive on a 2-1 pitch from Brandon Backe reached the second deck in left field with one out in the fourth. Kevin Kouzmanoff was aboard on a leadoff single."In that situation you've got to be looking for a fastball and he was able to give me what I wanted," Hairston said."It was right down the middle," Backe said. "It wasn't high, it wasn't low, it was screaming, 'Hit me!'"Astros manager Cecil Cooper didn't quite see it that way."I thought Brandon pitched well," Cooper said. "Even the pitch for the home run wasn't a bad pitch. The ball was down and the guy put a good swing on it."Normally a left fielder, Hairston started his second game in center field while filling in until Jim Edmonds (strained right calf) returns from the disabled list. Edmonds is expected back on Saturday.Hairston hit a few clutch homers down the stretch last season, including a two-run shot that gave San Diego the lead in the 13th inning of the Oct. 1 game against the Rockies.The Astros don't expect their slump to last long."I don't have any doubt about it. You're not going to see this team struggle a lot," Cooper said.San Diego's Khalil Greene went 3-for-4 and has five hits in two games.Young, an All-Star last year, got in trouble in the sixth, loading the bases on two singles and a walk. Left-hander Joe Thatcher came on and walked Michael Bourn on four straight pitches to bring in Miguel Tejada with the Astros' first run of the season. Thatcher got Pence to ground out to end the threat.Young (1-0) allowed one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He was unusually wild with five walks while striking out three.Backe (0-1) gave up two runs and five hits in five innings while striking out three and walking three.
Padres manager Bud Black threw batting practice to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and three other NFL players who are in town for Brees' charity golf tournament. Brees "has a short, compact stroke," Black said. "He swung the bat well. He's a good little hitter." Brees spent his first five seasons with the San Diego Chargers. ... The Padres raised the yellow home run line on the right-field porch by a few feet to the top of the railing, meaning home runs must now must clear the railing. Last year, the yellow line was at the top of the padding on the wall. "The umpires made a suggestion over the winter," Black said. "It's a cleaner move to do it that way." The front of the porch is 322 feet from home plate. ... Astros leadoff hitter Michael Bourn had his third stolen base in two games. The CF also made a nice over-the-shoulder catch of Brian Giles' drive to the warning track in the seventh.