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Diamondbacks 3, Padres 1

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PHOENIX (AP)

This time last year, the Arizona Diamondbacks were playing out the string, first place nowhere in sight, the playoffs long since gone.

Back atop the NL West and with Chase Field buzzing again for the first time in years, the Diamondbacks are soaring in the desert air, enjoying every moment of their massive turnaround.

Chris Young hit a two-run homer, Joe Saunders pitched seven strong innings and the Diamondbacks stretched their winning streak to five games with a 3-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.

''The fans have been great, there's a lot of energy in the ball park,'' Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. ''It feels good to win and that makes you feel even better.''

Shaking off a six-game losing streak that threatened to derail the season, Arizona won three straight over Washington and opened a six-game homestand with a win over the Padres on Friday night.

The Diamondbacks kept up the momentum in front of a loud crowd of 35,603 behind Saunders (9-11), who ended a three-game losing streak, Young's 19th homer and J.J. Putz's 33rd save.

The combination helped Arizona maintain its lead over San Francisco in the NL West at 74-59 - 23 wins better than last season.

''It's nice,'' Saunders said. ''Right now it's about being consistent. I know it sounds boring, but if we do the little things and throw up zeros, that's our game.''

The Padres got a solid start from Aaron Harang (12-4), but again couldn't come through at the plate when they needed to.

Harang gave up the homer to Young and hurt himself by throwing a pickoff attempt for an error that led to a run. The big right-hander lost for the first time in 10 road starts this season, but pitched well enough to win, giving up just two earned runs.

The Padres didn't give him much support, unable to solve Saunders while stranding seven runners in scoring position to lose their third straight on the heels of a season-high five-game winning streak.

''Aaron pitched great, threw the ball well, liked his stuff, pitched aggressive,'' Padres manager Bud Black said. ''We just got out-pitched, overall.''

Arizona kicked off a big six-game homestand with a 5-0 win over San Diego on Friday night, scoring all of its runs in the first two innings thanks, in part, to three Padres' errors.

The Diamondbacks followed it up with another solid performance, getting a big hit from Young and some more help from the Padres.

Young, batting sixth, got the offense started by lifting a no-doubt, two-run shot to left off Harang in the fourth inning.

The Diamondbacks got another run in the sixth, when Harang threw away a pickoff attempt at first for an error. Paul Goldschmidt scored from third on the play, right after Young just beat a throw by Padres shortstop Alberto Gonzalez for an infield single.

Harang, 6-0 in his previous nine road starts, was lifted for a pinch-hitter the next inning after giving up three runs - two earned - and seven hits with eight strikeouts.

''I was just trying to play something close by him, because I know CY gets a little antsy over there, you know he will sometimes jump the gun,'' Harang said. ''Probably with that count, I shouldn't have been doing too good a move. I should have just flipped it over there, just to show him I was thinking about it and gone after the hitter.''

Saunders retired the first seven batters he faced and had the Padres beating balls into the turf, getting 13 groundouts. He got some defensive help from shortstop Willie Bloomquist, who made a diving stop on Logan Forsythe to open the game and a nice play on Kyle Blanks' handcuffing one-hopper in the fourth.

Saunders found a little trouble in the seventh inning, partially caused by right fielder Justin Upton's drop of a routine fly ball with no outs. San Diego had four runners on in the inning, but got just one run - on Will Venable's punch single through the hole on the left side that made it 3-1.

Saunders ended the threat with a fly out and was done after that, allowing an unearned run and four hits.

''He was working ahead in the count, making pitches when he needed to and that's all you can ask,'' said Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero, who had two hits and picked off Gonzalez at first in the fourth inning. ''He's been working hard and it's been fun to catch him.''

David Hernandez, Arizona's primary setup man, left the game in the eighth inning, when a line drive by Gonzalez struck him on the right ankle. He tried to chase down the ball, which had caromed toward the first-base line, but gave up quickly and later limped off the field.

Thankfully for the Diamondbacks, who lost starter Jason Marquis to a similar injury earlier in the season, Hernandez only suffered a bruise.

Brad Ziegler finished the inning and Putz closed out the ninth, keeping the Diamondbacks perfect (17-for-17) on saves since the All-Star break.

Notes: Padres CF Cameron Maybin was scratched from the lineup with right wrist irritation. He's listed as day-to-day. ... San Diego is 37-79 all-time at Chase Field, its second-worst record behind the .286 winning percentage (6-15) at Busch Stadium. ... Arizona RHP Ian Kennedy will be seeking his NL-best 17th win on Sunday. His .800 winning percentage is the best in baseball and he's won eight of his past nine starts. ... San Diego LHP Cory Luebke, who will start in the series finale on Sunday, has been solid since joining the rotation, with a 3.28 ERA in eight second-half starts. He has a 2.12 ERA on the road this season.

Tagged: Padres, Diamondbacks, Aaron Harang, Joe Saunders, Chris Young, Alberto Gonzalez, Will Venable

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