Padres beat D-backs for 7th straight win
PHOENIX (AP) — The lead down to one, momentum about to swing to the other dugout, San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera went into the hole and came up with the kind of play that not only makes the highlights, but changes the complexion of the game.
It also was the kind of play that keeps winning streaks going.
Edison Volquez pitched seven effective innings, Cabrera preserved his lead with a spectacular dive-and-throw in the eighth inning and the Padres extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games with a 5-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
“That’s a huge play, a momentum-changer,” Padres manager Bud Black said.
San Diego already had plenty on its side.
The Padres came into the game on a roll, winning the series’ first two games by a combined score of 14-3 for their second six-game winning streak in August.
They kept it going with the same formula: good starting pitching, superb defense and a bunch of hits.
San Diego roughed up Trevor Cahill (9-11) and had at least 10 hits for the sixth time in eight games. Volquez (9-9) recovered after a shaky first inning and San Diego’s bullpen escaped some sketchy moments of its own. The defense, particularly up the middle, was stellar all day, no matter who was pitching.
The combination lifted the Padres to their second sweep in the desert this season and sixth straight win over Arizona, matching a franchise record against the Diamondbacks.
“We’re playing pretty good right now,” Volquez said.
The Diamondbacks are not.
After collecting two runs and three hits in the first inning, Arizona had one more hit off Volquez over the next six innings. Aaron Hill hit a two-run homer off Brad Brach in the eighth to pull Arizona within one, but Cabrera made his diving stop at the edge of the grass on a grounder by Justin Upton.
The Diamondbacks still had a chance, but Luke Gregerson escaped a jam to finish off the eighth, then pitched a perfect ninth for his first save since 2010.
Arizona has lost three straight and five of seven. It dropped to 4-10 its last 14 home games.
“When you get into streaks like this, sometimes it doesn’t seem fair,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “There (is) no rhyme or reason, but it is the way it worked out for us.”
It started with Cahill. The right-hander has been plagued by slow starts and Sunday was no different.
Moved up in the rotation after Arizona traded left-hander Joe Saunders to Baltimore, Cahill opened with a couple of groundouts before giving up a single to Chase Headley. He then walked Carlos Quentin to set up Yasmani Grandal’s run-scoring single and Yonder Alonso made it 2-0 with another single.
Cahill drew a few boos from the home crowd after walking Mark Kotsay to load the bases before ending the threat with a groundout. He needed 32 pitches to get through the first inning and has allowed 19 runs in the opening frame in 26 starts.
Cahill had more two-out problems in the third inning, giving up a run-scoring single to Kotsay after hitting Grandal with a pitch and Alonso’s single. He allowed another run in the fourth on a single by Quentin that made it 4-2 and was done after walking Grandal to load the bases with two out in the inning.
The Padres had eight of their 11 hits off Cahill, who allowed at least four runs for the third time in four starts.
“I didn’t throw the ball real well,” Cahill said. “When I made good pitches, they still found holes and that makes it tough.”
Volquez had similar first-inning problems, giving up two-out RBI singles to Miguel Montero and Chris Young.
The right-hander settled into a groove after that. He allowed two runs and four hits for his second straight quality start after allowing at least four runs in four straight outings.
“Sometimes it takes some pitches to get your arm loose and get the ball where you want it,” Volquez said.
The Padres gave Volquez plenty of defensive help, particularly second baseman Alexi Amarista. He made several spectacular stops, the best of the bunch coming in the second inning, when he ranged behind the bag and made a jump throw to get Jake Elmore by a half-step at first.
After Hill hit his 20th homer to cut San Diego’s lead to 5-4, Cabrera made a how-did-he-do-that diving stop on Upton to squelch Arizona’s momentum.
“That’s one of the best plays I’ve seen,” Black said of Cabrera’s stop. “An unbelievable play.”
Gregerson later struck out Chris Johnson with runners on second and third in the eighth while extending his scoreless streak to 22 games. He also made a diving stop to get pinch-hitter Jason Kubel for the second out in the ninth, and San Diego went on to its seventh straight win at Chase Field.
NOTES: A three-man umpire crew officiated the game after crew chief Tim Tschida, who was slated to work third base, was scratched due to “personal medical reasons.” … Upton extended his home hitting streak to 19 games with a single in the first inning. … Arizona LHP Tyler Skaggs, Monday’s starter against Cincinnati, earned the win in his major league debut on Wednesday after allowing two runs in 6 2-3 innings against Miami. … RHP Casey Kelly will make his major league debut for the Padres on Monday night against Atlanta. He was part of the 2010 trade that sent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to Boston.