Friday's game was the latest positive sign in the career of 27-year-old third baseman Chase Headley.
Headley hit the first grand slam of his career and had a career-best five RBI Friday in the Padres' 15-5 win at Pittsburgh.
"We're seeing a gradual progression offensively this year," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's more aggressive early in the count. Because of that, he's getting better pitches to hit."
In past years, perhaps even earlier this season, Headley likely would have taken the first pitch Jeff Karstens offered him Friday night with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth.
But Headley swung at the changeup offered by Karstens and drove it deep into the distant stands beyond right-center at PNC Park.
In the past, Headley's forte was working the count. In 2010, he ranked among the league leaders in pitches per at-bat. This season, however, he's altering his philosophy.
He calls it "aggressive selectivity."
"At times, it is useful to work the count," said Headley. "I want to get on base as often as possible. I'm extremely selective. The more pitches you see, the better chance you have of getting on. But with runners on, I want to hit the ball.
"I'm definitely going up there looking for something early in the count now. I'm starting to appreciate what Adrian Gonzalez did."
The switch-hitting Headley is hitting .292 overall -- and .356 against left-handers -- with a .379 on-base percentage. His four homers and 42 RBI are still below par for a No. 3 hitter.
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