Jeff Suppan's first outing with the Tucson Padres wasn't exactly what he had envisioned. But was it progress? Probably. 

Suppan surrendered five earned runs on seven hits in three innings of work Saturday night. A furious late-inning rally spared him the loss.

Tucson scored nine unanswered runs — four in the sixth inning, four in the eighth inning and one in the ninth — to win it. Vince Belnome doubled in Sawyer Carroll, who singled and then advanced all the way to third base when Bees catcher Hank Conger threw into the outfield on a steal attempt. 

The outing was Suppan's first of the year; he missed the first two weeks of the Triple-A season with a triceps injury. The 2006 NLCS Most Valuable Player threw 56 pitches, six more than his pregame pitch count; 36 were strikes. 

The Padres signed Suppan in February to add organizational depth, and to serve as a mentor to the team's young pitching prospects. But with Joe Wieland in San Diego, and part of the rotation, and Casey Kelly hurt, Suppan now figures into the Triple-A club's pitching plans. The Padres have been hurting for pitching depth since days after the season started. 

The Padres and Bees will play again today at 2:05 p.m. 


The sports editor of the Arizona Daily Star.