SAN DIEGO (AP) — His wobbly early season start corrected, Edinson Volquez is pitching like he’s supposed to for the San Diego Padres.
Backed by consecutive homers by rookie Jedd Gyorko and Will Venable, Volquez combined with three relievers on a four-hitter to lead the Padres to a 5-1 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
Volquez won his third straight start and the Padres, who took two of three from the Diamondbacks, won for the eighth time in 11 games. The Diamondbacks have lost five of six.
Volquez’s start carried more weight because the Padres put lefty Clayton Richard on the 15-day disabled list earlier Sunday with an intestinal virus. Richard was chased in the fourth inning of Saturday night’s 8-1 loss and the Padres had to use four relievers.
“This start today set up what needed to happen, where he pitched deep into the game and the guys who were the freshest were able to pitch,” manager Bud Black said. “It was a critical start. Volqy pitched very well on the heels of a tough start by Clayton.”
Volquez (3-3) has rebounded from losing his first three starts and seeing his ERA balloon to 11.68. He’s 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his last four starts.
Volquez said he’s been working with pitching coach Darren Balsley.
“A lot of work, man, trying to pull everything together to throw strikes,” Volquez said.
“Everything was working. I threw good pitches today, down in the zone and got a lot of ground balls, fly balls. My goal was to stay in the game as long as I can to give us a chance to win.”
Volquez held Arizona to one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings while striking out three and walking three. Joe Thatcher got one out and Luke Gregerson and Huston Street pitched an inning apiece.
Black said Volquez has been throwing more strikes early in counts and more strikes with his secondary pitches.
“The change, when thrown, he’s been able to throw it behind in counts,” Black said. “When they take it, called strike. Where I think early in the year maybe he was trying to be a little bit too fine, a little bit out of whack mechanically and the offspeed pitches were not consistently in the strike zone. So the last three starts have been much more strike-heavy with the secondary pitches. The fastball command is improved, also. You put it all together, three wins and a lot of zeroes.”
Volquez had only one bad inning, when he allowed Didi Gregorius’ home run deep into the right-field seats leading off the third. Gregorius hit his third homer. The Diamondbacks have homered in a season-high six straight games.
Volquez then gave up a double to Kennedy and, with two outs, walked the bases full. He got out of the jam by inducing Eric Chavez to ground out.
“We didn’t have anything going at all,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “We didn’t make any adjustments to what he was doing. He was trying to start off with off-speed pitches and we were out in front. We didn’t have a good approach. It should because we only had four hits.”
Gyorko hit a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth and Venable followed with a solo shot off Ian Kennedy.
With Chase Headley aboard after getting hit by a pitch on his upper right arm, Gyorko sent a 3-2 pitch an estimated 426 feet into the upper deck in left field, his second. Venable then hit a drive into the first row of the home run porch in the right-field corner, his second.
That was it for Kennedy (1-3), who allowed five runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings, struck out five and walked three. After winning at St. Louis on opening day, he is 0-3 with a 5.70 ERA in six starts.
“I just felt like I couldn’t put anyone away,” Kennedy said. “There were times when I had two strikes on guys and I didn’t have that put-away pitch, whether it was my fastball or my changeup. In those situations where I could strike somebody out and I didn’t do it, it’s pretty frustrating.”
Headley extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single in the first, the third straight Padres batter to reach against Kennedy opening the inning. Everth Cabrera hit a leadoff double and Chris Denorfia walked ahead of Headley’s single up the middle. Yonder Alonso added a sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Kennedy is 7-2 lifetime against San Diego, with a 3.17 ERA. … Arizona has scored just six runs in Kennedy’s last five starts. … Tennis great Rod Laver was at the game and dropped by both clubhouses before the game, visiting with managers Bud Black and Kirk Gibson. … The Padres activated RHP Tyson Ross. Black said Richard (0-4, 8.54) has lost 12 pounds since getting sick during a series at San Francisco two weekends ago, although he’s started to gain it back. He’s scheduled to see a specialist Monday. Ross will pitch out of the bullpen as the Padres go with a four-man rotation due to two off days coming up. … The Diamondbacks head to Los Angeles for a three-game series starting Monday, with RHP Trevor Cahill (1-3, 2.84) scheduled to start against LHP Chris Capuano (0-1, 9.64). … The Padres open a home series against Miami in a matchup of last-place teams. Former Padres LHP Wade LeBlanc (0-4, 6.23) is scheduled to start opposite Andrew Cashner (1-2, 4.24).