PHOENIX (AP) — Patrick Corbin had breezed through his previous start, getting hitters to dive after his slider and chase pitches out of the strike zone.
The Padres had seen the young left-hander once before, though, and weren’t going to be lured into his effectively wild approach. It still didn’t matter.
Corbin battled through six innings and passed a five-time Cy Young Award winner along the way, becoming the first left-hander in franchise history to start a season with eight straight wins in the Diamondbacks’ 6-5 victory over the Padres on Sunday.
“The thing about Patrick is he kept his composure,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “This was a total contrast to the last game he pitched, and he kept grinding it out.”
A stellar start to the season put Corbin in select company, as he joined Randy Johnson as the only left-handers in team history to open a season 7-0 after tossing a three-hitter against the Rockies in his last start.
The Padres were much more selective after facing Corbin on May 4 and made the 23-year-old work for his outs the second time around, becoming the first team to score more than two earned runs against him this season.
Corbin fought his way through it, making just enough good pitches and getting plenty of help from the offense to pass Johnson and become the third Arizona pitcher ever to start 8-0.
Eric Chavez homered for the second straight game, and Martin Prado matched a career high with four of the Diamondbacks’ 11 hits, driving in a big run in the seventh inning. He is 7 for 8 over his past two games, as he had three hits the night before.
Corbin also helped himself with a run-scoring single in the fifth off Tommy Layne (0-1).
Heath Bell closed out the workmanlike win with a perfect ninth for his eighth save.
“They were laying off some good pitches,” Corbin said. “I didn’t have my best stuff, but I wanted to go out there and battle them.”
Corbin made one big mistake, and Carlos Quentin hit it out for a two-run homer in the fifth inning. Kyle Blanks also had two RBIs, but the Padres couldn’t get much else going against the Diamondbacks’ left-hander to lose for the fourth time in five games.
“Corbin, you can see why his stats are what they are,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “That is a live left arm, it really is. A live fastball, good slider and occasionally a solid changeup. We put some stress on him, we did. We had some good swings, but he is a good pitcher. We will see him again. He is going to be around a while.”
Corbin has been one of baseball’s best pitchers through the first two months of the season, using an effectively wild approach and a wicked slider to keep hitters off-balance.
He went 6-8 with a 4.54 ERA in 22 games last season — 17 starts — after being traded from the Angels in a package for Dan Haren in 2010.
Corbin’s success this season has come from his ability to throw strikes; he leads the majors hitting the plate 71 percent of the time.
The Padres jumped on Corbin’s strike-throwing tendencies right away, with leadoff hitter Chris Denorfia hitting his first pitch past Chavez at third for a double. Denorfia moved over on a sacrifice and scored on Chase Headley’s groundout, giving San Diego an early lead on a pitcher who hasn’t trailed much this season.
It didn’t last the inning. Paul Goldschmidt lined a double off Jason Marquis in the bottom half, and Chavez followed with his seventh homer of the season, a two-run, opposite-field shot to left.
Arizona added two more runs in the second against Marquis, the first on Miguel Montero’s run-scoring double and the second on a sacrifice fly by Gerardo Parra that made it 4-1.
Marquis continued to labor with his command and was replaced after walking two in the fourth inning. He allowed four runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings
“There were some positives and some negatives,” said Marquis, who had won his five previous decisions. “Obviously, I would like to go deeper. I just wasn’t executing. They had a good game plan. They were attacking me early in the count. A lot of first-pitch, second-pitch swings. It worked to their advantage today.”
Corbin wasn’t exactly sharp, either. He hurt himself in the fourth inning with an off-balance throw that sailed into the stands for an error, setting up Blanks’ run-scoring single that cut the D-backs’ lead to 4-2.
An opening walk in the fifth led to trouble, too, when Quentin hit his fifth homer of the season, a two-run shot that tied the game at 4-all.
Corbin helped himself in the bottom half and put the D-backs back on top with his second hit of the season, a looping RBI single just over the third-base bag. He was done following a leadoff single in the seventh inning, having allowing four runs — three earned — on seven hits with five strikeouts.
Corbin joins Micah Owings in 2011 and Brandon Webb in 2006 and 2008 as the only Diamondbacks pitchers to open a season 8-0.
“I just wanted to try to keep us in the game,” Corbin said. “We did a good job scoring early, putting us ahead, and I just wanted to keep it.” NOTES: The Diamondbacks have an extra-base hit in 34 straight games. … Quentin finished the series 6 for 10 with three doubles and a homer. … The D-dbacks will call up LHP Tyler Skaggs to start the first game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Rangers after RHP Ian Kennedy cut his index finger doing the dishes and was scratched. RHP Trevor Cahill will pitch the second game.