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Padres fire pitching coach Booker

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres fired pitching coach Greg Booker before Saturday night's game and replaced him with Darren Balsley, the pitching coach of Mobile in the Double-A Southern League.

"We just felt it was time for a change," general manager Kevin Towers said in a statement.

Towers was not immediately available for comment during the Padres' game against Atlanta.

Booker, 42, was beginning his second full season as the Padres' pitching coach. After four-plus seasons as the bullpen coach, Booker became interim pitching coach on June 17, 2001, Dave Smith underwent treatment for alcoholism. When Smith decided not to return, Booker got the job.

In 2002, Booker's first full season as pitching coach, The Padres set major league records when they used 37 pitchers, including 23 who got at least one win.

The Padres rank at or near the bottom in the NL in many pitching categories. San Diego began Saturday with a 5.53 ERA, ahead of only Cincinnati (5.68) and had a major league-high 201 walks.

Balsley, 38, has been in the Padres' organization since 2000, also serving as a pitching coach at Single-A Lake Elsinore. Balsley played for six seasons in the minor leagues with Oakland and Toronto.

Balsley is to join the Padres in Milwaukee on Monday.

D-RAYS HAVE NO ASSISTS: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays failed to record an assist in a 2-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night, the eighth time in major league history a team has accomplished that feat in a nine-inning game.

The Orioles struck out nine times against right-hander Jeremi Gonzalez, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Durham.

Baltimore hitters flied out eight times to center fielder Rocco Baldelli and hit a fly foul ball to left fielder Jason Tyner. The Orioles hit four infield popups and bounced into two unassisted groundouts.

Saturday marked the second time in franchise history that Tampa Bay failed to record an assist in a nine-inning game.

The Devil Rays also did it at Minnesota on May 1, 2002.