SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Claudio Vargas hit the ball as hard as any
Padres batter did on Saturday.
His pitching was pretty good, too.
The Arizona right-hander combined with three relievers on a
five-hitter and helped himself with a two-run double, and the
Diamondbacks escaped a big ninth-inning jam to beat San Diego 5-3
Asked if he were happier about the hit than his pitching, Vargas
smiled and said: "Both, man."
The Diamondbacks popped back above .500 and regained sole
possession of second place in the moribund NL West. The
Diamondbacks and Padres entered the day tied for second in the
division and a game behind Cincinnati in the NL wild-card race.
The Diamondbacks, though, still have their eyes on the division
"That's what I think we have to do if we want to win the
division, is play like we did today," Vargas said. "Good
pitching, good defense and big hits."
For the Diamondbacks, Vargas' hit was definitely the biggest.
Vargas came in with only three hits this year, but two were
doubles. He hit another one with two outs in the fifth to give the
Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead.
Padres rookie Mike Thompson (3-4), making an emergency start for
Clay Hensley, had faced just one batter over the minimum until
center fielder Mike Cameron misplayed Orlando Hudson's fly ball
into a double with one out in the fifth. After Stephen Drew struck
out, catcher Chris Snyder was intentionally walked to get to
Vargas. The pitcher promptly doubled into the gap in left-center.
"That's my second time they walk the catcher and I got a base
hit," Vargas said. "He threw me a fastball up and in the middle
of the plate. That's the first two runs of the game."
Manager Bob Melvin was impressed.
"That was a huge hit at the time," Melvin said. "He hasn't
done much for us offensively this year. But as well as Thompson was
pitching and we weren't getting good swings, then all of a sudden
he gets the hit, drives in a couple of runs and obviously it's a
big momentum shift for us.
"Then to continue to pitch the way he did, as long as he did,
was a pick-me-up."
The inconsistent Padres, who beat the Diamondbacks 8-2 on Friday
night, managed only three hits and one run off Vargas (10-8) in
seven innings. He struck out five and walked two in his third
straight strong start.
"Early in the game we had a tough time figuring out Vargas,"
Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "We didn't hit any balls hard."
Brandon Lyon allowed one hit in the eighth and closer Jorge
Julio walked the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth before
making way for rookie Tony Pena. Pena gave up an infield RBI single
to Geoff Blum and walked pinch-hitter Mike Piazza before striking
out Mark Bellhorn for his first career save.
The defending NL West champion Padres lost for the ninth time in
12 games. The Padres are hitting .196 in the first six games of a
10-game homestand against NL West opponents.
"We didn't play well today; offensively, defensively," Bochy
said. "We were shabby out there."
The Diamondbacks scored two more runs in the sixth, on Drew's
single and a wild pitch by Doug Brocail.
Drew doubled in the ninth and eventually scored on Eric Byrnes'
Hensley felt pain in his left buttocks in recent days, so
Thompson was summoned Friday night from Las Vegas. He was preparing
to fly to Portland, Ore., where he had been scheduled to start
Saturday night for the Triple-A Beavers. It was the fourth time
Thompson was brought up this year.
He allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, walked three
and struck out two.
San Diego got its run in the fifth when Todd Walker tripled to
right-center with one out and scored on Blum's sacrifice fly.
Vargas has a 1.86 ERA in his last three starts, having
allowed four earned runs and 15 hits in 19 1/3 innings. ... Padres
SS Khalil Greene was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a
strained left middle finger.