Gwynn Jr.'s 2-run triple lifts Padres over Marlins

MIAMI -- Mired in last place in the NL West and miles outside the postseason picture, the San Diego Padres surely haven't given up on the season.

Instead, they're embracing the role of spoiler.

Tony Gwynn Jr.'s two-run triple broke an eighth-inning tie, Oscar Salazar had three hits and the Padres beat the reeling Florida Marlins 7-4 Saturday night.

"We're trying to salvage the year the best way we could, and that was to knock these guys who have a chance off," Gwynn said.

Will Venable hit his ninth home run and scored twice for the Padres, who improved to 9-59 when trailing after six innings.

Ronny Paulino hit his eighth homer and drove in three runs for Florida, which has dropped seven of 10. Wes Helms had two hits for the Marlins -- who have given up 26 runs and 44 hits in their last three games, all losses.

"We can't sit here and just hang our heads and be frustrated about it," Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco said. "We have to do something about it, come back and get the game tomorrow. The season's not over yet."

Adam Russell (1-0) worked a scoreless seventh for the win. Heath Bell pitched the ninth, earning his 31st save in 34 chances.

San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez, who entered Saturday tied for fifth in the NL with 34 home runs, sat out because of soreness around his left biceps. He may not start Sunday, either.

"They knew going into this month, they were playing teams that are fighting for playoff spots," Padres manager Bud Black said. "It's a great measuring stick, how we play against the Cardinals, the Brewers, the Braves, the Marlins."

Needing help in a beleaguered bullpen, the Marlins called up Tim Wood and Luis Ayala before the game from Triple-A New Orleans, using both in relief of Nolasco.

Wood couldn't hold a 4-3 lead, allowing one run in 1 1/3 innings. Ayala was worse.

Ayala (0-3) faced six batters, retiring only one. He gave up a tying single to Kevin Kouzmanoff in the seventh and then was charged with San Diego's three runs in the eighth. Salazar and Nick Hundley opened with singles, both scoring on the triple by Gwynn, who later came home on Everth Cabrera's sacrifice fly.

Ayala's ERA in 10 appearances with Florida rose from 8.59 to 11.74.

"We had an opportunity to get the win, and we just couldn't get through those middle innings," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

It's become a familiar theme: In this three-game slide, Florida relievers have an ERA of 6.61, allowing 24 hits and seven walks in 16 1/3 innings.

Nolasco went 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out seven. Padres starter Wade LeBlanc, called up from Triple-A Portland before the game, gave up four runs in six innings.

LeBlanc's first appearance since June had an unusual start, thanks to unusual weather -- even by stormy South Florida standards.

His first offering to Marlins leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan came at 6:17 p.m. Only two pitches and one minute later, the grounds crew was pulling the tarp on the field after a strong rain band moved over the stadium, replete with huge flashes of lightning and wind gusts over 30 mph.

At 6:34 -- amid more lightning, thunder and light rain -- right field and center field were somehow awash with sunshine. The game resumed after a 44-minute delay, the Marlins' 16th at home this season.

Game notes
2004 Olympic boxing gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa of Cuba threw out the first pitch. ... The Padres placed OF Kyle Blanks (sore right foot) on the 15-day disabled list, clearing a roster spot for LeBlanc. ... The Marlins called up Ayala and Wood to replace RHP Chris Volstad and INF Gaby Sanchez, both sent to the minors Friday. ... Chad James, Florida's first-round draft pick, threw a pregame bullpen session. He was 8-2 for Yukon (Okla.) High this spring.