SD@LAA: Boxberger gets two outs in relief

CHICAGO -- The Padres recalled right-hander Brad Boxberger from Triple-A Tucscon on Thursday and optioned lefty Robbie Erlin to Triple-A.

Boxberger, 24, has made 10 relief appearances with Tucson this year, going 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA (six earned runs in 13 innings), striking out 19. He made his Major League debut with the Padres last year, appearing in 24 games over four different stints with the club. He recorded 33 strikeouts and 18 walks.

"He's got just pure stuff," manager Bud Black said. "It's legitimate Major League stuff. Velocity to the fastball with carry, very good changeup, good arm speed with the change, movement with the change, swing-and-a-miss change."

Boxberger was acquired from the Reds in 2011 along with Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal in exchange for Mat Latos.

"He's finding his way as a Major Leaguer in regards to consecutive pitches put together to get hitters out," Black said. "And that's a challenge for him and all pitchers as they move on in their careers to become confident and reliable pitchers in the Major Leagues."

Erlin, 22, appeared in the past two games for the Padres in Chicago, making his big league debut Tuesday. He allowed two runs in that appearance before pitching a scoreless inning Wednesday night.

Gyorko's first homer shows signs of things to come

SD@CHC: Gyorko hits his first career home run

CHICAGO -- Jedd Gyorko hit 62 home runs in three seasons in the Minor Leagues. Entering Thursday's series finale at Wrigley Field, he's hit one in the big leagues. But that learning curve is shortening.

"I've been swinging the bat a lot better as of late," Gyorko said. "I had a feeling it might be coming soon, just from the way my at-bats have been going, so it's good to get that first one out of the way."

His first Major League homer came Wednesday night against Cubs starter Scott Feldman in the eighth inning of a 6-2 loss. He hit a two-seam fastball out to left-center field.

"The biggest learning curve happens immediately, and the quicker you understand there's a difference, you'll be better off for it," manager Bud Black said. "The biggest leap is that initial month, that initial first half, that initial first year. And I think Jedd has the baseball awareness, the aptitude to understand that this is a different game."

Gyorko hit 30 homers and drove in 100 runs last season between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson. He was productive in Spring Training this year -- hitting .257 with four homers and 12 RBIs -- forcing the Padres to promote him to the big leagues. He's hit .250 with seven doubles, a home run and nine RBIs through 26 games.

"We're not easing him in," Black said. "He's playing every day and he's playing like every inning. But he's up for it. He likes to play. He's a player."

Cabrera finds home atop Padres' lineup

SF@SD: Cabrera's RBI single puts Padres in front

CHICAGO -- After hitting throughout the San Diego order in 115 games last year, shortstop Everth Cabrera has settled nicely into the Padres' leadoff role.

Cabrera has hit leadoff in 19 of San Diego's first 28 games. He's hit .270 with two doubles, two triples, a home run, two RBIs, four stolen bases and 10 runs out of that spot. He's hitting .233 in eight games in the No. 2 spot entering Thursday's series finale against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, where he again hit second.

"He's extremely motivated to lead off and hit at the top of the order," manager Bud Black said. "He's got a lot of self-confidence in his game, which is great."

Cabrera has been a force at the top of the order in the first three games against the Cubs. He went 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs Monday and 1-for-4 with two runs Tuesday.

When Cabrera hits leadoff, he has a .379 on-base percentage and a .771 OPS. When hitting second, his on-base percentage drops to .303 and his OPS to .670 OPS. Entering Thursday, his 12 walks are tied for second in the National League and tied for fourth in the Majors.

"He also knows that for him to hit at the top of the order, he has to get on base and be productive," Black said. "With the pitcher hitting ninth, if we have to bunt to move the eighth-place hitter along, Cabrera has to be a run producer. What we really like, and we've seen it really come on since Spring Training, is his at-bats as far as keeping the ball on the ground, fighting with two strikes, not taking big swings as he gets behind in the count, putting the ball in play, making the defense work."

"We need him on base, so the on-base percentage is critical."