Then, with two outs and runners on first and third, the rookie came on and struck out Justin Upton to earn his first career save as the San Diego Padres beat the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves 5-3 for a three-game sweep.
Edinson Volquez struck out a season-high nine in seven innings as he rebounded from the worst start of his career. Chris Denorfia hit a two-run homer for the Padres, who have won six of eight. They swept the Braves in San Diego for the first time since May 19-21, 2005.
It was Vincent’s first save opportunity this season and the second of his career.
“I was ready for the moment,” said the 26-year-old Vincent, who’s from nearby Ramona and was an 18th-round pick in the June 2008 draft. “The moment was good. Save situation, the first save of my career, so I’m excited.”
Vincent said his mother, father and grandmother were in the crowd. He squeezed in a quick workout after the game because they were going out to dinner.
Vincent wasn’t even here when this series began Monday night. He was recalled from Tucson on Tuesday.
“This is your job,” he said. “You have to go in and execute pitches and get outs. That’s why you come up here because you know how to get the outs. When they see you perform like that, it makes them happy and makes you happy.”
With closer Huston Street on the disabled list, Luke Gregerson got the first two outs of the ninth but also allowed Jordan Schafer’s RBI single and was pulled when the Padres couldn’t turn a double play on Andrelton Simmons’ grounder. Left-hander Tommy Layne came on to face Jason Heyward, who singled up the middle to move Simmons to third.
Vincent came on and fell behind 2-0 to Upton before striking him out looking.
Upton had hit a long home run to left in the eighth.
“He’s got the power. That’s what he gets paid to do. For me, I’ve got to go out there and throw my pitches and hope he swings and misses,” Vincent said.
“I’ve got to go in and throw strikes. I went 2-0 and I was like, ‘All right, I’ve got to just challenge him now.’ So I just threw a cutter down the middle and he swung over it. I threw another one and Yasi (catcher Yasmani Grandal) called a fastball again and I knew from last year that he swings through my fastball so it was like, all right, let’s do this. He took it.”
Vincent said it was supposed to be a fastball away but it went in “and he took it. Mistake pitch, but it worked.”
“That was quite a challenge for Nick, wasn’t it?” Padres manager Bud Black said. “Hope there were some people from Ramona down here for that one. That was a good one for Nick. You’ve got a prolific home run hitter who in his previous at-bat hit a home run, and a young pitcher trying to make his mark in the majors. Fell behind him and came back and got him. That was a great duel. ... He made a very good pitch on the 2-2 count.”
The Braves, who have lost five of seven, were swept for the second time this season. The first was at Detroit from April 26-28.
“Nothing to take away from the Padres, but this was a weird series,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We outhit them all three games, but we lost all three. Let’s not forget that. Our guys busted their (rear ends) all three nights. In a one-run game, we had the right guy at the plate in the ninth with Justin. That’s the way baseball is sometimes. You run into a hot team and you don’t get any breaks. That’s just the way it goes.”
The Braves outhit the Padres 25-20 but were outscored 15-11.
“We thought we did all we could,” Upton said. “We swung the bats well, we played solid defense. Sometimes the game doesn’t go your way, and it didn’t work out for us.”
Denorfia homered to left field with one out in the fifth off Paul Maholm, his third. Everth Cabrera was on second after hitting a single and stealing his 30th base, tops in the majors.
Volquez (5-5) bounced back after allowing nine runs and 11 hits, both career highs, in 2 1-3 innings of a 10-9 loss at Colorado on Friday. He held the Braves to one run and six hits and walked three. His nine strikeouts were his most since Aug. 20.
In his previous two starts, Volquez allowed a combined 13 earned runs and 17 hits in 7 1-3 innings.
Maholm (7-5) loaded the bases three times, including twice in the three-run first and for a final time with two outs in the sixth before making way for David Carpenter.
Maholm allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.
He gave up three singles and two walks in the first, including a bases-loaded walk to Kyle Blanks with one out followed by Logan Forsythe’s two-run single. After Jesus Guzman singled to load the bases again, Grandal lined to shortstop and Forsythe was doubled off second. One of the runs was unearned due to second baseman Dan Uggla’s throwing error.
Upton drove in Atlanta’s first two runs, including his 15th homer, a solo shot in the eighth off Joe Thatcher. The ball went an estimated 430 feet, landing in the balcony on the third level of the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse and bouncing into the second deck in left field. Upton also hit an RBI single in the third.