After ending last season with a bad taste in their mouth, the San Diego Padres opened the 2011 campaign against the team that ended their last two playoff runs.
Despite having only one win in their last 13 meetings in St. Louis, the Padres got off on the right foot against a familiar foe.
After three forgettable at-bats out of the eighth spot in the Padres' lineup, offseason acquisition Cameron Maybin tied the game with a two-out solo home run in the ninth inning.
Maybin then grounded a single that led to the go-ahead run in the 11th inning on Thursday in the 5-3 victory.
"We fight, we claw, we hang around," Maybin told the Associated Press. "We find a way to do it."
One huge reason why the Padres were able to hang around was because of their ability to shut down Albert Pujols (0-for-5), who grounded into a career-worst three double plays and left five men on base.
Compare that to Pujols’ Opening Day in 2010: 4-for-5, two home runs and three RBI’s.
The Cardinals grounded into five double plays in total, and it was the Padres' new middle infield combination of Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson who looked like it wasn't their first time turning two together.
Padres General Manager Jed Hoyer—now entering his second full season, signed Barlett and Husdson to two-year contracts in the offseason.
One of his more recent signings, former Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Pat Neshek, worked his way around two walks in the 10th inning on Thursday and earned his first win since 2007.
Heath Bell needed just 10 pitches to close the door for the save.
The turning point in the game came when, with two outs in the 11th and the game tied at 3-3, Chase Headley singled off Bryan Augustein (0-1).
Maybin followed with a single through the right side that Theriot bobbled off right fielder Jon Jay's bounced relay back to the infield.
Headley kept running and made a headfirst slide to beat the throw home.
Nick Hundley added an insurance run with an RBI single, plating pitch-runner Cedric Hunter.
"That's how we have to play," Headley said. "We're a team built to pitch, play defense, get timely hits and run the bases hard. We won a lot of games that way last year. Hopefully, we can continue to do that.”
The Cardinals and Padres take the day off on Friday and return to action on Saturday at 1:10 pm. The Padres will send lefty Clayton Richard to the hill against Jake Westbrook.
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