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Padres' Hoffman one save shy of all-time mark

SAN DIEGO -- As much as he'd like to focus solely on the
playoff chase, Trevor Hoffman simply can't ignore his pursuit of
history.

Hoffman chatted by phone with Lee Smith on Thursday, then went
out several hours later and earned his 477th save. That pulled him
within one of tying Smith's all-time record and helped the NL
West-leading San Diego Padres beat Arizona 3-1 to keep their
half-game lead over Los Angeles.

Smith has been invited to come to San Diego this weekend, when
Hoffman could tie or break the record in the Padres' final home
series, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Smith has prior
commitments, but that could change.

Hoffman said it wouldn't change his focus if Smith is in the
stands.

"I'd welcome that little opportunity. This isn't my gig,"
Hoffman said. "This is something for major league baseball. I'm
glad that something like this could happen for the city of San
Diego, and I'm fortunate to be a part of it. To have the
opportunity to have a guy like Lee Arthur Smith come to town, that
would be a tremendous honor. I'm just humbled by the fact that this
thing's going on."

A major league baseball representative called Smith on Thursday
on behalf of the Padres, and a team official later contacted Smith,
who had 478 saves from 1980-1997.

Hoffman called Smith on his own.

"I was a little nervous," Hoffman said. "There are people who
played the game before you. You get a little star-struck."

Hoffman let Smith know that he'd like to have him in San Diego
this weekend, if possible.

"It had been brought to my attention that he didn't want to
rain on anybody's parade, and that's just the class guy that he
is," Hoffman said. "I would love for him to be here.

"It was a pretty enjoyable conversation," Hoffman said. "He's
a nice man. He's got that Southern drawl from Louisiana. He
expressed a desire to be here. He does have prior engagements over
the weekend, but I know if he can make it, he's going to try."

Hoffman pitched the ninth for his NL-best 41st save in 46
chances. After Carlos Quentin hit into a force to end the game,
Hoffman walked toward the plate and shook hands with catcher Rob Bowen.

The 38-year-old Hoffman had two saves in this three-game series
after blowing the save in Monday night's wild 11-10 loss in 10
innings at Los Angeles. Hoffman has pitched four times in five
days.

All but two of Hoffman's saves have been with San Diego, which
obtained him from Florida on June 24, 1993, in a five-player deal
that sent Gary Sheffield to the Marlins.

"It's going to be a big moment for all of us," manager Bruce
Bochy said. "Hopefully he can do it here at home."

Mike Cameron hit a two-run triple for the Padres. He also made a
nice catch of Eric Brynes' fly ball against the fence in
left-center opening the ninth.

It looked for a bit like the Padres wouldn't need to call on
Hoffman. They loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth against
reliever Luis Vizcaino, then failed to score. Bowen struck out
before pinch-hitter Todd Walker lined out to first baseman Conor Jackson, who doubled up Adrian Gonzalez.

Hoffman "is just a model of consistency," Arizona's Luis
Gonzalez said. "He just keeps doing what he does as well as
anybody. The way it looks, it seems like he can go on for a
while."

Woody Williams (10-5) won his third straight start. He allowed
five hits and an unearned run in 5 2-3 innings, with three
strikeouts and one walk.

Brandon Webb (16-7) lost for the first time in four starts
against the Padres this year. Coming off consecutive complete-game
wins, he allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings, struck
out four and walked one.

Cameron tripled into the gap in left-center with no outs in the
second to bring in Mike Piazza, who hit a leadoff single, and
Russell Branyan, who walked. Geoff Blum followed with a sacrifice
fly.

Williams got into and out of a jam in the sixth, when the
Diamondbacks scored their only run, on Jackson's RBI single.

Game notes
San Diego's Dave Roberts hit his 13th triple, tying Tony
Gwynn's season franchise record set in 1987. ... Cameron matched
his career high with his ninth triple. He also had nine for
Cincinnati in 1999. ... San Diego's Brian Giles drew 100 walks for
the second straight year. He led the majors with 119.