San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Derek Norris struck out in each of his first four plate appearances, then won the game for San Diego in his fifth.
Norris cracked a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning to break a draw and give the Padres a 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rob Scahill (1-3) took the mound in the ninth and put himself in an immediate hole by walking Jedd Gyorko. Abraham Almonte then stepped up and tried a sacrifice bunt, and Scahill short-armed the throw to first as the ball trickled into right field. The runners advanced to second and third, and Cory Spangenberg was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Then things got interesting. Pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista grounded sharply to second base, and Neil Walker fired home for a force out. Yangervis Solarte then stepped up and did the same, grounding to Will Middlebrooks at shortstop for another force at home.
But Norris delivered with two outs, sending a 1-0 offering just over the wall in center field.
"Every game is different," Padres manager Bud Black said. "When a game starts it is a blank canvas... It was a great baseball game."
Craig Kimbrel (1-1) earned the win for a clean ninth inning.
James Shields started for San Diego and went six innings, yielding a pair of runs on six hits with six strikeouts.
His counterpart Francisco Liriano dazzled for Pittsburgh, yielding just three hits and a walk while striking out 11 before getting betrayed by his bullpen.
"You just keep playing the game. We've been doing this for a long time," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "We didn't help ourselves late. Interesting game, fun game."
Pittsburgh plated both of its runs in the third inning. Gregory Polanco led off with a bunt single and moved to third on Walker's base knock. Polanco was tagged out at home on Andrew McCutchen's fly to right, but Starling Marte reached when his swinging third strike went for a wild pitch. Alvarez made it 2-0 with his two-run poke up the middle.
San Diego couldn't do anything against Liriano, but he departed after six innings and Jared Hughes quickly lost the lead in the seventh inning.
Middlebrooks walked and Gyorko reached on an infield single to put a pair on for Almonte, whose double to right-center plated both baserunners. Arquimedes Caminero came on and stranded Almonte to hold the 2-2 tie through seven.
Norris hit his second career grand slam ... Pittsburgh had won seven straight games ... Shields didn't allow a home run for just the second time in 11 starts this season ... Pittsburgh went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, while the Padres finished 2-for-12.