Young’s bookend homers lead D-backs to 6-5 win

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AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX (AP) — The rare sellout crowd came to see Luis Gonzalez, screamed as the veil pulled back on his No. 20 and replays of his most famous hit played on the video screen at least a dozen times during the game.

Chris Young gave them something else to remember: a highlight of his own. Actually, two of them.

Young started and ended the game with homers, bookend shots that gave the Arizona Diamondbacks a too-good-to-be-true 6-5 win over the backsliding San Diego Padres on Saturday night.

“It was the perfect script,” Young said after becoming the fourth player in 40 years to lead off and end a game with a homer.

The night started with a tribute to Gonzalez, the all-time fan and teammate favorite who has the unquestionably biggest hit in Arizona’s history, that dink single off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to win Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

Energized by seeing “Gonzo” become the first Arizona player to have hit number retired, the Diamondbacks got off to a roaring start, beginning with Young’s 16th career leadoff homer. Arizona then battered Clayton Richard for four runs in the fourth, including one on a bizarre wild pitch during an intentional walk.

A few hiccups by starter Rodrigo Lopez allowed San Diego to chip away, but the lead was still two heading into the ninth. Aaron Heilman (3-3) had a scoreless innings streak of 10 1-3 innings heading into the game, so the 48,946 fans didn’t become too uneasy when Jerry Hairston Jr. led off the ninth with a homer.

That quickly changed when Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-strike, two-out solo to left off Heilman, shifting the fans from standing and cheering to sitting and booing.

Young made it worth the anguish.

Looking for a slider on a 1-1 pitch from Luke Gregerson and getting it, Young sent a no-doubt homer on a line to left, turning a night of celebration into one to remember.

“(There was) a lot of talk about what Gonzo represents to the organization, how he played and how he treated everybody,” interim Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “It is kind of the message we are trying to get across. Then to be able to play a game like that and have it end like that after we watched all the highlights of Gonzo doing it: We can be like you.”

San Diego wants to be somewhere else.

The Padres were able to rally late, but the second straight desert dud against the last-place Diamondbacks was their sixth loss in nine games. The Padres still came away clinging to a one-game lead in the NL West because San Francisco lost at Atlanta, which, combined with the at-least-we-came-back approach, was something positive.

“I loved the way we fought back,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “We had our chances.”

The Padres didn’t seem to have any after Richard’s rough start.

Young responded to a day off by sending the his third pitch into the seats in left, then Richard came apart in the fourth.

Adam LaRoche got it started with a run-scoring single and Rusty Ryal followed with a ground-rule double to knock in another run. That put runners on first and second, so the Padres decided to intentionally walk Stephen Drew to get to .200 hitter John Hester.

They got the intentional walk, but Richard sailed the fourth pitch over catcher Nick Hundley’s head, allowing LaRoche to score from third. Hester made matters worse by lining a run-scoring single up the middle to put the Diamondbacks up 5-0.

“It is very unusual, for sure,” Gibson said of the intentional walk/wild pitch combo. “You don’t expect things like that to happen.”

Lopez didn’t allow a homer for just the fifth time in 23 starts, but ran into trouble in the sixth inning.

The Padres had four straight hits off the right-hander in the inning, including Ryan Ludwick’s run-scoring double and an RBI single by Chase Headley that brought Gibson out for the hook. Hundley followed with a sacrifice fly off D.J. Carrasco to cut the lead to 5-3 before the inning ended with a double play.

Lopez was pegged for all three runs on eight hits in five innings, but was a side note to the drama that played out later.

“People got a good show and we came away with a win,” Lopez said. “It’s a good thing.”

Notes: Padres RHP Chris Young had no setbacks after a 30-pitch bullpen session. He’s been on the DL with a strained shoulder since April 7. … The Diamondbacks completed their trade with the LA Angels, adding LHP Tyler Skaggs as the player to be named in the July 25 Dan Haren trade. … Arizona 3B Mark Reynolds didn’t start for the third straight game with a head injury, but was available as a pinch hitter. He was struck on the helmet by a pitch on Tuesday. … San Diego’s Tony Gwynn ended an 0-for-20 slump with a single off Sam Demel in the eighth inning.

Updated August 7, 2010