Ex-Lee pitcher Smith makes Padres debut

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Burch Smith throws during the first inning of an interleague baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday, May 11, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Smith is making his Major League debut. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. —Tyler’s Burch Smith experienced a dream first inning in his major league debut for the San Diego Padres Saturday at Tropicana Field. The right hander sent down the Rays in order, striking out two with 11 of his 14 pitches thrown for strikes.

To add to the good feelings, Chase Headley had staked Smith to a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the top of the first.

The Padres went in order against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson in the top of the second.

But the Rays were anything but quiet in the second inning against Smith.

A leadoff walk to Evan Longoria started six straight batters reaching base against Smith with the Robert E. Lee grad allowing six earned runs before being replaced by Tyson Ross with no outs in the second. Smith threw 26 pitches in the inning without getting an out.

The Padres eventually rallied to take the lead, only for closer Huston Street to give up a game-winning homer to Longoria in the bottom of the ninth. It came with two outs and was Street’s first blown save in nine tries this season as the Rays won 8-7.

“I feel the difference between the first and second inning was I was locating the fastball better. The second inning I was leaving pitches over the plate,” said Smith. “Hitters at this level are going to take advantage of mistakes. (I’ll) come back next time and do better.”

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