Blanks exhibited surprising speed when he hit a two-run inside-the-park home run to help fellow rookie Cesar Carrillo earn his first major league win in the Padres' 6-3 victory against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
The previous night, Blanks won the game with a three-run homer in the ninth inning for a 4-1 victory against the Cubs. On Tuesday night, he hit a ball off the top of the wall in center in the eighth that ricocheted to right-center. The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Blanks easily beat the throw home with a headfirst slide for his eighth home run.
"At times we always preface our remarks by saying, 'For a big man.' I told him I'm not saying that anymore," Padres manager Bud Black said. "This guy is athletic. He can run. We've seen him move to the outfield and look comfortable."
Blanks, a natural first baseman, was moved to the outfield at Triple-A Portland this season to facilitate his move to the majors with All-Star Adrian Gonzalez in his way at first base. Since he was called up on June 19, Blanks has steadily improved.
"Being able to see pitching on a more consistent basis, it helps," Blanks said.
Chicago lost for the ninth time in 12 games but stayed six games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis, which lost 7-3 at the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs fell five games behind Colorado in the wild-card race.
The Padres have won five straight at home against Chicago, outscoring the Cubs 24-7.
"We've had trouble scoring runs in this park," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. "I don't know why."
• Miller: Gregg out as closer
Carrillo (1-1), who was bombed in his major league debut at Milwaukee last Thursday, allowed three runs, seven hits and four walks in six innings.
The Brewers hammered Carrillo, the Padres' 2005 first-round draft choice, in a 12-9 victory where he allowed eight runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings. The first three hits Carrillo allowed were home runs.
"The first time I had a lot of jitters," Carrillo said. "I felt more comfortable. I was trying not to do too much."
But this time, Carrillo had to deal with the emotions of facing the team he followed growing up in Chicago.
"Facing the Cubs, I was nervous as well," said Carrillo, who makes his offseason home in Chicago. "There are so many emotions right now, wow. It's just a good feeling. It's just amazing."
Gonzalez hit his 33rd home run off Ryan Dempster (6-7) in the fifth to put the Padres ahead to stay.
Heath Bell pitched a perfect ninth for his 30th save in 32 chances.
Kevin Kouzmanoff had three hits, including an RBI single in the first and a run-scoring single in the third when the Padres scored twice for a 3-1 lead.
Rookie Will Venable led off the eighth with a walk off Angel Guzman before Blanks lofted a high fly ball toward the wall in center. Kosuke Fukudome crashed into the fence as the ball hit off the top of the padding and caromed toward right-center. By the time Fukudome recovered the ball, Blanks was already to third base and he had no trouble beating the relay.
"I figured if he doesn't catch it, it's definitely going to be clanking off the wall," Blanks said. "I was just happy to hit the ball after my first three at-bats."
Dempster got Blanks three times among his season-high 10 strikeouts and allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings. He walked three and pitched out of trouble several times.
"I could have made some better pitches," he said. "I gave up a home run to the guy in the lineup you don't want to let beat you."
Since coming off the disabled list July 28, Dempster has given up at least four runs in four of his five starts. In his previous outing, Dempster allowed six runs and eight hits in seven innings in a 6-1 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday.
Dempster had two hits and an RBI.
- The last Padre to hit an inside-the-park home run was Sean Burroughs on May 16, 2003, against Atlanta.
- Piniella demoted closer Kevin Gregg after a series of blown saves, including on Monday night when he gave up the three-run homer to Blanks. RHP Carlos Marmol assumes the role.
- Dempster's career mark against the Padres fell to 7-2.
- San Diego tied their season high with three stolen bases.