Schilling wins his career-high 23rd game


PHOENIX (AP) -- Curt Schilling has won more games than any pitcher in consecutive seasons since 1976, and he's not finished.

Schilling allowed three hits and struck out 10 in seven innings for his major league-best 23rd victory Tuesday night in the Arizona Diamondbacks' 8-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

His 45 victories the past two years are the most in consecutive seasons since Jim Palmer won 45 in 1975-76 and the most in the NL since Steve Carlton won 47 in 1971-72.

Luis Gonzalez and Matt Williams hit two-run homers and Steve Finley had a solo shot as the defending World Series champions stayed 5 games ahead of second-place San Francisco in the NL West with 17 to play.

``Offensively we were struggling last week, but the one thing this team does is we don't panic,'' Gonzalez said. ``We just try to hammer things out and get right back on track.''

Schilling's victory total is the most in the NL since John Smoltz won 24 games in 1996. The last pitcher to win 23 was Pedro Martinez for Boston in 1999.

Schilling said his teammates have provided him with all the support he could hope for.

``I haven't gone through a spell where I went out and we were struggling to score runs,'' Schilling said. ``I've been healthy for the year, and it's just worked out. I'm very proud of it, but the season's not over yet.''

For the 15th time in his 32 starts, Schilling did not walk a

``I thought I missed my spot the first two or three innings
often and got away with a couple, but didn't give up any,'' he
said. ``I really feel like if I can get you through three and I've
got a lead, I'm going to settle down and I'm going to be better as
the game goes.''

He threw 92 pitches, 66 strikes, and reached double digits in
strikeouts for the 13th time this season.

``I know he has been unhappy with some of his recent outings,
but I thought he was really good tonight,'' Arizona manager Bob
Brenly said. ``He had good command of all of his pitches and showed
some wrinkles tonight that he hadn't shown up to this point in the
season this year.''

Schilling (23-5) surpassed his previous career-best 22 victories
set last year, one night after teammate Randy Johnson won his 21st,
also a career high. Arizona has four victories in its last seven
games, all by Schilling or Johnson.

``We just faced two guys who are competing for a Cy Young this year,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. ``You have your work cut out. Those guys make it awfully difficult, not just with great stuff but great command.''

Schilling, never a 20-game winner before being traded to Arizona
in 2000, allowed a single to Gene Kingsale in the second, a home
run to Ryan Klesko in the fourth and an infield single by Cesar
Crespo in the sixth.

The Padres have lost six in a row at Arizona and are 1-8 there
with one game to play this season.

After Klesko's 28th homer of the season cut the lead to 2-1,
Arizona broke it open with four runs in the fifth. Gonzalez's 26th
homer -- his first since Aug. 23 -- put the Diamondbacks up 4-1 after
Finley led off with a single and Junior Spivey hit into a fielder's choice.

Starter Jake Peavy walked Erubiel Durazo and was relieved by Jeremy Fikac, who promptly gave up the homer to Williams that made it 6-1.

Finley's 22nd homer put the Diamondbacks ahead 1-0 in the first.
Center fielder Mark Kotsay climbed the fence and nearly robbed
Finley, but the ball bounced off the heel of his glove onto the
liquor bar in the swimming pool area.

Peavy's wildness led to another run in the third. Tony Womack walked, went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on Spivey's infield single and scored on another wild pitch.

Quinton McCracken and pinch-hitter Chris Donnels had RBI singles
in the seventh. McCracken replaced David Dellucci, who left with a
mild concussion after being hit in the helmet on the throw from
catcher Wiki Gonzalez while stealing second in the fifth inning.

Padres right-hander Jason Shiell left in the eighth inning after
being struck on his throwing arm by Luis Gonzalez's line drive.

Peavy (5-7) allowed five runs, six hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out six.

Game notes
Schilling has 28 walks and 292 strikeouts in 235 innings this season. ... The Diamondbacks have only three games remaining against a team with a winning record -- at St. Louis from Sept. 23-25. ... Klesko has hit safely in 17 of 18 games, batting .383 (26-for-68) with seven doubles, six homers and 16 RBI. ... Womack was 0-for-3, ending an 11-game hitting streak.