Buck's blasts rock Padres before quake

Buck's blasts rock Padres before quake

SAN DIEGO -- John Buck was looking for a fastball and that is precisely what he received. The Blue Jays catcher locked in and swung with everything he had, sending the baseball rocketing over the wall in right field for an eighth-inning home run on Monday night.

"He really hit that one hard," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston marveled.

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A half-inning later, PETCO Park trembled.

With a pair of home runs, Buck helped support a solid effort from Shaun Marcum and paced an offensive attack that guided the Blue Jays to a 6-3 victory over the Padres. Buck's blasts had such force behind them, he was asked if they might have also caused the earthquake that shook the stadium in the bottom of the eighth inning.

"Yeah, right," Buck said with a laugh.

The 5.7-magnitude quake that struck roughly 90 miles east of San Diego occupied much of the postgame conversation in the visitors' clubhouse, but Buck and Marcum were the real story on this night. Their efforts helped Toronto put its weekend sweep at the hands of Colorado firmly in the past.

After scoring only six runs in three losses on the road to the Rockies, the Blue Jays responded with a six-run, 12-hit outburst in the opener of this three-game Interleague set. With the win, Toronto improved to 2-5 in Interleague Play this year and upped its season ledger to 35-30 overall.

"Our bats kind of took a vacation," Buck said. "To be able to come out and giving some run support to Marcum was huge."

Buck began his assault in the second inning, when he ripped a 3-2 pitch from Padres right-hander Jon Garland (6-5) over the left-field wall for a two-run home run. That shot represented the Major League-leading 100th homer of the season for the Jays, who then ran to a 4-0 lead in the second courtesy of a two-run double from Aaron Hill.

In the eighth inning, Buck stepped in against Padres reliever Sean Gallagher and once again worked the count full. Gallagher left a heater up in the strike zone and Buck made the pitcher pay with a solo flight to right. That pushed Toronto's lead to 6-3 and gave Buck 11 home runs this season.

"I got lucky," Buck said with a smirk. "I just felt like I went straight to it and got it in the wind."

Buck hardly shouldered the entire offensive load, though. Hill drove in three runs (all with two outs) and finished with three doubles, marking only the second three-hit game of the season for the second baseman. The six runs that Buck and Hill provided proved more than ample for Marcum to find the win column.

"That was good to see," Gaston said. "We've been struggling with the offense."

Marcum's night was not void of drama, though.

The Padres (37-27) tagged Marcum for two solo home runs -- one by Jerry Hairston Jr. in the third inning and another from Adrian Gonzalez in the fourth. San Diego then loaded the bases with no outs against the righty in the seventh, though an uncharacteristic fielding error from shortstop Alex Gonzalez was partially to blame.

Marcum (6-3) managed to limit the damage, retiring the next three hitters in order, allowing just one run to score in the process. It was a turn that could have easily swung the contest in San Diego's favor, but Marcum found a way to sidestep any serious harm and escaped with a win after seven solid frames.

"We were fortunate there in the seventh to get out of that," Marcum said. "We ended up getting out of the jam. It was something that I needed to do, to get out of there with some damage control and try to get out of there with the lead."

Following his part in Monday's win, Marcum retired to the clubhouse, where he felt PETCO Park shake. With one out in the bottom of the eighth, tremors rumbled through the ground, causing Padres third baseman Chase Headley to step out of the batter's box. Behind the plate, Buck was not sure what was going on.

"I was like, 'What's going on?'" Buck said. "He was like, 'It's an earthquake. You don't feel it?' I was like, 'Man, I didn't even feel it.'"

Many of the Blue Jays players on the field at the time said they did not feel the earthquake. But those on the bench or in the clubhouse experienced the building quivering.

"My first earthquake. That was pretty fun," Marcum said with an amused grin. "I was in [the clubhouse]. I didn't feel it until they said something on TV. So, I kind of stopped moving and the TVs were moving a little bit and I kind of started floating back and forth a little bit. That's always fun."

For some players -- such as Ricky Romero, who is from Los Angeles -- it was entertaining to see others get excited.

"This was just a little earth shaking -- not even that bad," Romero said. "For a lot of guys, it's their first time. It's funny to see their reactions."

It was fun, because it was not a serious situation. The players were in a joking mood, because they put an end to a dismal stretch of losses. It was exactly the way Toronto hoped to open its latest Interleague series.

"Nobody likes to lose," Marcum said. "We need to get things turned around and try to get back on the right note, try to go out and win [Tuesday], win the series and head back home."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.