Depth pays dividends


SAN DIEGO — Ryan who? Jack who? Freddy who?

The backups played large roles again today in the Pirates’ 8-3 win against the Padres.

Ramon Vazquez, who gave second baseman Freddy Sanchez a breather, singled, walked and scored a run. Robinzon Diaz, a fill-in for wounded catcher Ryan Doumit, lined a two-run single which tied the game 2-2 in the fourth inning. Brian Bixler stepped off a plane from Indianapolis and into the starting lineup. He walked and hit a two-run double.

“We really could have gotten exposed if we didn’t have guys to back up (the injured starters),” Adam LaRoche said. “But we have guys who can jump right in there and produce. We don’t have to hide players out there. That’s something we haven’t had since I’ve been here.”

• In one at-bat today, Bixler equaled his RBI output from all of last season. Manager John Russell said Bixler revamped his approach at the plate — not his mechanics — and is a more patient hitter.

“He’s really come a long way,” Russell said.

A year ago, Bixler was thrust into the lineup when Wilson went down with an injury. The suddenness of the situation overwhelmed Bixler, and his anxiety showed at the plate and on the field.

“It’s a lot easier the second time around, just knowing what I’m getting into,” Bixler said. “You always get a little bit of butterflies. But moreso than that, I was excited. I’m happy to get the opportunity and looking forward to playing.”

• Eric Hinske was called out in the fourth inning after taking a full-count pitch that was so far inside it nearly knocked him down. TV replays appeared to show the pitch from Jake Peavy was several inches off the plate, but umpire Larry Vanover saw it differently. Hinske was dumbfounded by the call and lingered at the plate to ask Vanover for an explanation.

• One of the best parts of a Sunday game at sunny Petco Park is standing and clapping along with “Anchors Aweigh” as members of the U.S. Navy stand at attention and look on from a special section in the upper-deck.

• The Diamondbacks called up infielder Josh Wilson (Mt. Lebanon) from Triple-A to replace shortstop Stephen Drew, who’s on the disabled list.