After turnaround talk, D-backs put it together
SAN DIEGO — Kirk Gibson made it clear before Saturday’s game: It’s time to stop talking about last year.
“We need to redefine who we want to be,” Gibson said.
The new Diamondbacks got off to a good start with a 4-2 victory over the Padres in a game that offered plenty to build on.
Daniel Hudson made the best start of his injury-shortened season, Willie Bloomquist and Paul Goldschmidt continued their remarkable hitting runs and Gerardo Parra did a little bit of everything, including showing that there is life without Justin Upton in the lineup.
It was exactly the kind of game the D-backs (24-29) needed as they look to get back on track, with the belief that things can turn around being reinforced by action.
“All the guys have that feeling, but it’s not the feeling. We have to start doing it,” catcher Miguel Montero said.
“Everybody is just comfortable thinking we that we are going to come back. But yeah, it’s time to come back. It’s not like we are going to come back at some point. It’s not some point. We have to come back now. We have to do it now.”
Hudson’s strong outing was a positive step for a team that will benefit from his return to the rotation. Hudson gave up five hits in eight innings, giving up two runs on three consecutive hits in the fourth. He retired 14 of the last 16 batters he faced while throwing 112 pitches in his second start since returning from a shoulder injury.
“To be able to finally let loose and to go out and throw strikes and get early outs was pretty uplifting for me,” said Hudson, who mixed in more sliders than usual while striking out five and walking one.
After seeing Ian Kennedy throw 122 pitches Wednesday in San Francisco, Hudson lobbied to go longer in his starts, too. Gibson was all for it.
“The ‘Huddy’ of old,” said Gibson, who went to the mound after Hudson walked the first batter in the eighth inning with a 4-2 lead.
“I didn’t want to take the game away from him. That’s what we need. We need more of that.”
Parra started in right field for Upton, who was given his first non-injury day off of the season Saturday after going 0 for 4 with a walk Friday.
It was prescient move. Parra, hitting leadoff, singled and scored and also drew a bases-loaded walk in the win. He threw out two runners at third base, one with an assist from Aaron Hill, and he just missed throwing out a man at home.
“Phenomenal game,” Gibson said.
Parra created the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning, when he made an aggressive bluff off third base against Padres left-hander Joe Thatcher. Third baseman Chase Headley yelled at Thatcher to step off the rubber, but Thatcher flinched before he could get off, enabling Parra to score on a balk for a 3-2 lead. Parra led off the inning with a single off Thatcher’s bare hand and went to third on Bloomquist’s single, his third hit of the game.
“I was on the bench thinking, ‘Wait, what are you doing? He fooled me, too.’ That was a big one, a big run for us,” Montero said.
Added Gibson: “You see some guys fake from there. Their third baseman was off a little bit, so he took it an extra couple of steps.”
Parra drove in an insurance run in the eighth when he walked with the bases loaded and two outs off left-hander Alex Hinshaw, brought in just to face Parra. Hudson, the previous batter, worked reliever Luke Gregerson for a walk on a 3-2 pitch to bring up Parra.
Parra also made the defensive play of the game in the fourth inning, when he easily threw out Yonder Alonso attempting to advance from second base on a fly ball to medium-deep right field. When the inning ended, Parra wagged his finger as he passed the San Diego dugout while running in from right field.
“I say, ‘Don’t go anymore,'” Parra said with a smile, adding that the gesture was meant for fellow Venezuelan Jesus Sanchez.
The throw was a game-changer. The Padres, who had taken a 2-1 lead in the inning, had only two more hits the rest of the way, both singles.
The D-backs responded right away. Goldschmidt extended his career-high hitting streak to 11 games with a home run into the second deck of the left-field seats in the top of the fifth for a 2-2 tie, and Hudson did not allow a runner past first base thereafter. J.J. Putz walked the tightrope for his 12th save after putting two runners on base with two outs in the ninth.
“Parra, he plays good whenever he is out there,” Montero said. “I think that was a big, big out at third base. It kind of killed the momentum for them.
“Those are the little things we have to do together. We do those as a team and things are going to change around.”