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Pads clinch playoff berth behind newcomer Wells, Cameron

PHOENIX (AP) -- The old man knew how to rise to the occasion.

David Wells saved his best of the season for when it was needed
most, a dominating performance that has the San Diego Padres in the
postseason for the second year in a row.

The 43-year-old left-hander threw six scoreless innings, not
even allowing an Arizona runner to reach second base, and the
Padres clinched a playoff berth with a 3-1 victory over the
Diamondbacks on Saturday.

"This is what I live for," Wells said. "This is what I've
played for is the opportunity to pitch in a big game when it
counted. There's nothing better."

Wells, who missed his previous start with gout in his right
foot, allowed four hits, struck out three and walked one in his
230th career win.

"I've been here plenty of times. I've failed and I have
succeeded," said Wells, who expects to retire after the playoffs.
"I still had huge butterflies going out there today and it was
even more emotional knowing that it was the last regular-season
start of my career."

With Arizona ace Brandon Webb scheduled to go on Sunday, the
Padres knew their best chance to clinch was Saturday behind Wells.

"There was so much pressure," San Diego manager Bruce Bochy
said. "This was a huge game. He showed what he's all about."

Mike Cameron's booming two-run homer was the difference as the
Padres' win clinched consecutive playoff appearances for the first
time in franchise history.

"It turns out it was a very big hit at the time," Cameron
said. "I couldn't be any happier than I am right now, just to get
an opportunity to go out there and do it again."

Whether the Padres advance as NL West champions or as the wild
card team won't be decided until Sunday's regular-season finales.
But that was no reason to squelch the celebration.

"We're going to celebrate this, but not go overboard," Bochy
said as champagne flew all around him. "It's a great day."

The San Diego victory eliminated Philadelphia from postseason
contention, while the Padres and Los Angeles remained tied for the
NL West lead after the Dodgers won at San Francisco 4-2.

If the two still are even after Sunday's games, the Padres get
the division title because they won the season series against Los
Angeles.


The playoff berth is San Diego's fifth. The Padres also made it
in 1984, 1996, 1998 and 2005.

When it was over, the Padres rushed the mound around closer
Trevor Hoffman, who earned his NL-leading 45th save.

Champagne spewed everywhere in the locker room, where the Padres
reveled as the first visiting team to clinch a playoff spot in
Arizona. Wells burst into Bochy's office and emptied a champagne
bottle over the manager's head.

"You look too dry," Wells said as the two hugged.

Moments later, an unsuspecting Wells was drenched with ice and
water from the big tub where the champagne had been stored.

Padres fans gathered above the dugout, cheering and chanting
long after the game ended. Players came out onto the field to join
the fans, dousing them with what seemed like an endless supply of
the bubbly.

The San Diego victory eliminated Philadelphia from postseason
contention, while the Padres and Los Angeles remained tied for the
NL West lead after the Dodgers won at San Francisco 4-2.

If the two still are even after Sunday's games, the Padres get
the division title because they won the season series against Los
Angeles.

The playoff berth is San Diego's fifth. The Padres also made it
in 1984, 1996, 1998 and 2005.

"Well, congrats to them. They've won it two years in a row,"
said the Diamondbacks' Craig Counsell. "We've come in and said the
division's up for grabs and they've grabbed it two years in a
row."

Stephen Drew hit a pinch-hit solo homer off reliever Cla
Meredith in the seventh.

Wells (1-2) allowed four hits, struck out three and walked one
in his first victory in eight outings, dating to a 6-4 win for
Boston over Detroit on Aug. 16.

"That's big-time Boomer, man," Cameron said. "He's been doing
it for 20 years now."

Since he was acquired by the Padres from the Red Sox on Aug. 31,
Wells was 0-2 in four starts in his return to San Diego. The
three-time All-Star was 12-8 with a 3.73 ERA for the Padres in
2004, his only full season in the National League.

He was scratched from his scheduled start Monday, but said he
felt fine for this one and responded by blanking an opponent for
the first time this season.

"He's known to come up with big performances in a big game,"
Arizona manager Bob Melvin said, "and he made really good pitches
when he had to."

The Padres didn't get a hit until Russell Branyan's single off
Edgar Gonzalez to lead off the fifth. Cameron followed with a
455-foot shot far into the left field seats, his 22nd home run of
the season, and San Diego led 2-0.

San Diego added a run in the sixth on Josh Bard's RBI line drive
off Gonzalez's glove.

Juan Cruz, who has been in the bullpen but hadn't pitched since
Sept. 16, started for Arizona and pitched two perfect innings.

Gonzalez (3-8) relieved Cruz and allowed three runs on three
hits in three-plus innings. He struck out two and walked two.

Right fielder Carlos Quentin robbed Dave Roberts of a home run
with a catch just above the fence to end the Padres' third.

Game notes
San Diego finished September 19-9, matching the most wins
in the month in franchise history. ... Wells is sixth among active
pitchers in wins. ... Roberts extended his career high with his
49th stolen base. ... Drew's homer was the 31st in ballpark history
to land in the swimming pool in right.