CLEVELAND -- It's certainly been a rough start for Padres third baseman Chase Headley, who sat in front of his locker after Wednesday's doubleheader with a bag of ice wrapped tightly around his right knee -- with a matching bag surrounding his left ankle.
This rough start to the season, for him as well as his teammates, has certainly left its mark in many ways, though Headley had at least one reason to crack a rare smile after the Padres hung on for a 2-1 win over the Indians before a crowd of 9,930 in the second game at Progressive Field.
Headley's flare of a single into shallow left field in the sixth inning against Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer provided the difference for the Padres (3-6) and also gave him his first RBI of the season. It wasn't the hardest ball he's ever hit. But at this rate, it might have been the most satisfying.
"It was great for it to fall in," said Headley, who entered the game hitting .107. "We needed it as a team. I needed it personally. Sometimes, you hit the ball hard right at someone. Sometimes, you get beat and it finds a hole."
While the Padres -- who lost the first game Wednesday to the Indians, 2-0 -- needed a big hit, they also were in dire need of a strong start by left-hander Robbie Erlin (1-0).
Erlin, the No. 5 starter who was three weeks removed from his last substantial outing -- and that was in Spring Training -- tamed the Indians (5-4), limiting them to one run on four hits in six innings. He had no walks and six strikeouts, working fast, throwing strikes and getting a lot of mileage with his changeup.
"We needed a well-pitched game," said Padres manager Bud Black. "You saw the effective change, he pitched aggressive and with confidence. I think that we've seen in a year the development of a young pitcher. He still has a ways to go."
Black wanted to get two left-handed starters in this series against the predominantly left-handed-hitting Indians. He probably didn't expect to have both the Game 1 starter Eric Stults and then Erlin go on the very same day. But Monday's rainout forced the team to juggle its rotation.
Erlin impressed the Indians.
"He knows how to pitch. He threw the ball where he needed to. He made the most of his day, but really, really good job of locating his stuff. And his changeup was really tough to pick up. That kept us off-balance all day," said right fielder Elliot Johnson.
In the first game, Stults allowed one earned run over 5 2/3 innings. In the second game, Erlin moved fast through his start, before turning the ball over to Dale Thayer, Joaquin Benoit and closer Huston Street as the three combined to get the final nine outs of the game.
Street allowed two baserunners in the ninth inning before getting two fly outs to end the game, giving him his third save.
As has been the case this season, the Padres struggled to score against the Indians, specifically Game 2 starter Bauer (0-1), who was added to the roster as the team's 26th player for the doubleheader. Bauer allowed one earned run in six innings with two walks and eight strikeouts.
The Padres are now 10-for-75 with runners in scoring position with four regulars - Jedd Gyorko, Will Venable, Yonder Alonso and Headley each hitting below .200.
"We need to get the rest of the group to start swinging the bat," Black said.
Headley, who led the league in RBIs (115) in 2012, is hoping that starts Friday when the Padres face the Tigers in the first of three games at Petco Park. So is his manager.
"Chase is pressing," Black said. "Chase is taking this hard. He wants this, like all guys do. I hope it might jump start Chase a little."
The Padres loaded the bases in the sixth inning off Bauer on a single, a hit-by-pitch and a walk. Headley, a switch-hitter batting from the left side, was looking for a pitch he could flip the other way to left field.
"I made a conscious decision to try and hit the ball the other way. I wanted to see the ball and let it get deep," he said. "The swing was good. He beat me, but the plane was good. Sometimes, you get rewarded when you have some length through the zone.
"It was definitely not the hardest ball I ever hit."
The Padres got their first run in unconventional fashion as leadoff hitter Everth Cabrera reached base and advanced to second base on an error to start the game. Chris Denorfia then lifted a fly ball that sent right fielder Johnson back toward the warning track.
Johnson made the catch, took two steps, put both hands on the wall to steady himself then dropped the ball as he transferred it from his glove to throwing hard while throwing it back to the infield.
First-base umpire and crew chief Bob Davidson ruled it a missed catch, and Denorfia was awarded a double. Cleveland manager Terry Francona immediately emerged from the dugout and challenged the call, which was then reviewed at the Replay Operations Center in New York. After a two-minute review, the play stood as called due to inconclusive evidence to overturn Davidson's decision.
Cabrera, now on third base, later scored on Seth Smith's groundout. It was the first run the Padres had scored in the first inning this season -- and the first run they scored in any of the first three innings.
Erlin did his best to make that early lead hold up, though the Indians tied the game in the third inning. But that would be the only run they would score off him.
As the fifth starter, there's no telling as to when Erlin will pitch again. But, to be sure, he has earned another chance moving forward. He didn't seem too concerned when he next turn would come.
"That's out of my control," he said. "All I can do is throw the best I can and keep trying to improve. That's where I channel all my energy and thoughts. I try to keep it simple."