Jones swings for fences


SAN DIEGO — It is no easy feat to launch a ball over the outfield fence at Petco Park, which is why witnessing the two monster shots last night by Garrett Jones was sort of like seeing a unicorn. “That’s a big-time night,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Garrett swung the bat very well. He’s been a big part of our offense for a while now.” It was Jones’ sixth career multi-homer game and his second this season. He is batting .331 with 38 RBI in his past 44 games. Against the NL West this year, Jones is hitting .363.

To many hitters, the fence can look like it’s 1,000 miles away at Petco. Jones said he tries not to think about it. “If you get a pitch to hit and put a good swing on it, hopefully, it’s going to go out,” Jones said. “The first one I hit yesterday barely got out. I thought it was going to be out by more than that. This is a park where you really have to get it, you really have to square it up and put a good swing on it. You’re not going to get any cheap ones here.” The game-tying shot Jones hit in the ninth inning traveled 409 feet to left-center. “I put everything I had into that swing,” Jones said. “I had nothing left.”

»»» MLB will release the 2013 schedule sometime in the next few weeks, but it is expected that NL Central teams will face AL West clubs in interleague play next season. According to an MLB official who has seen an advance copy of the schedule, the Pirates’ annual “natural rival” in interleague play is the Detroit Tigers. In the past, the Pirates have lobbied for an annual series against Cleveland, but the Indians already have a rivalry series against Cincinnati.

»»» The Pirates are 3-1 in extra-inning games. They were the last team to lose a game in extras this season.

»»» If you think Andrew McCutchen is coming up empty against the Padres, you’re on to something. He’s batting .173 against San Diego, his lowest average against any team this year.

Game 124: Pirates @ Padres, 6:35 p.m. ET

Pirates (67-56): 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Neil Walker 2b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Gaby Sanchez 1b, 6. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 7. Michael McKenry c, 8. Clint Barmes ss, 8. 9. James McDonald rhp (11-5, 3.61)

Padres (55-70): 1. Everth Cabrera ss, 2. Will Venable rf, 3. Chase Headley 3b, 4. Carlos Quentin lf, 5. Mark Kotsay 1b, 6. Logan Forsythe 2b, 7. Cameron Maybin cf, 8. John Baker c, 9. Andrew Werner lhp (major league debut)