<
>

D-Backs slip past Padres, move into first in NL West

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks wanted to savor the
moment after moving into first place in the NL West.

Eric Byrnes and Chad Tracy hit back-to-back homers as the
Diamondbacks beat San Diego 5-2 Tuesday night for the fifth
straight victory over the Padres.

Arizona took a half-game lead over San Diego Padres and the
Colorado Rockies atop the division.

"It's awesome," Tracy said. "It's good to go home and go to
sleep and know you're on top of the division."

With 123 games to go in the regular season, the Diamondbacks
were just enjoying the feeling. They hadn't been in sole possession
of the division lead since May 25, 2005.

"It matters. It matters a lot," reliever Jason Grimsley said.
"You'd rather be in first place than last."

However, if Arizona hopes to stay in first place, it may soon be
looking for starting pitching. Starter Orlando Hernandez left the
game in the third with a mid-back strain. He also may have injured
his right knee.

"The doctor will take a look at it (Wednesday), and maybe I'll
have a good report," said Hernandez, who has made seven trips to
the disabled list since 2000.

It was the second time this season that an Arizona starter was
forced to walk off the mound with an injury. On April 18, Russ
Ortiz left with one out in the third inning with what was later
diagnosed as a calf injury. Ortiz made one more start before being
placed on the disabled list.

With Hernandez out of the game and San Diego ace Jake Peavy in
it, the Diamondbacks looked like they were in trouble. But Grimsley
and the rest of the bullpen held down the Padres until Arizona's
hitters could get to Peavy, who went 3-0 against them last year.

Grimsley relieved Hernandez and immediately gave up a single to
Josh Barfield. One out later, Grimsley's throwing error loaded the
bases. But he escaped the jam when Mike Cameron grounded into a
double play.

Grimsley (1-1), who was credited with the victory, pitched three
scoreless innings, retiring the last seven men he faced. He gave
way to Casey Daigle, who gave up a two-run home run to Brian Giles,
his third, to pull the Padres to 3-2 in the sixth.

Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his 12th save in 13
opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks came up with timely hits, as they've
often done this season. Four of their five RBI came with two out.

"They are a good team, I can tell you that," said Peavy (3-4),
who allowed three runs and six hits in five innings. "That lineup
can hit, I can promise you that."

The Diamondbacks took a 1-0 lead in the third on Tracy's two-out
double, which scored Byrnes from first base.

Two innings later, Byrnes made it 2-0 when he belted a Peavy
pitch into the left field seats. Then Tracy hit a 445-foot homer to
right field to put Arizona up 3-0.

It was the first time this season that the Diamondbacks hit
consecutive home runs.

"That was a pretty impressive win for us," Arizona manager Bob
Melvin said.

The Diamondbacks were in third place in the NL West when this
three-game series began Monday. If they lose the series finale
Wednesday night, they could find themselves back in third place.
That's how tight the NL West is these days.

"Everybody's gunning for us," Tracy said. "We can't let up
now. We have to put some distance between us and the rest of the
division."

Game notes
1B umpire John Hirschbeck was forced to leave the game in
the third inning with back spasms. A three-man crew of C.B Bucknor,
Wally Bell and Mark Carlson worked the rest of the game. ... Ortiz
allowed one earned run and two hits in four innings for Triple-A
Tucson on Tuesday night.