12 D-backs strike out but Upton saves the day
Justin Upton saved the game for the Arizona Diamondbacks with his arm and then won it with his bat.
After throwing out a base runner at home plate from right field to preserve a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning, Upton launched a two-run homer in the top of the sixth and added a solo shot in the eighth to lift the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 3-1 victory Wednesday night over the San Diego Padres.
Upton was moved up to the third position in the batting order for the opener of a two-game series at San Diego’s Petco Park, and the 21-year-old outfielder made Arizona manager Bob Melvin’s strategy pay off.
“We’ve been having a little bit of trouble in that spot, and I was a little reluctant to put him in there,” Melvin said. “But it seemed like today was the time, and obviously he had a terrific game.”
Diamondbacks starting pitcher Jon Garland threw seven shutout innings in a matchup against San Diego ace Jake Peavy, who struck out 12 batters in seven innings.
The Arizona defense committed four errors during Garland’s seven innings on the mound, but he was able to hold the Padres scoreless. Garland (3-1, 4.03 ERA) allowed three hits and three walks while striking out two.
The Padres loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth on a leadoff single by Henry Blanco and a pair of throwing errors by the Diamondbacks. With one out and the bases full, David Eckstein hit a fly ball to shallow right field. Upton made the catch for the Diamondbacks, and Blanco tagged up at third and tried to score the game’s first run for the Padres. With Blanco charging down the third-base line toward home plate, Upton fired a one-hop strike to D-backs catcher Miguel Montero, who caught the throw and tagged out Blanco to complete an inning-ending double play.
The Padres’ Peavy (2-4, 4.27 ERA) was at the top of his game through the first 5 and 1/3 innings, striking out 10 and allowing just two hits. But after Augie Ojeda walked with one out in the sixth, Upton stepped to the plate and drove Peavy’s first pitch into the seats in left-center field for his fifth homer of the season.
Upton, who raised his batting average to .284 and extended his hitting streak to 13 games, cleared the fence again in the eighth, when he crushed an offering from reliever Duaner Sanchez for a solo homer to straightaway center field to extend the Diamondbacks’ advantage to 3-0.
The Padres loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth against Arizona closer Chad Qualls, who gave up consecutive singles to Adrian Gonzalez and Jody Gerut before hitting Kevin Kouzmanoff with a pitch. Qualls was able to limit the damage to one run, as Gonzalez scored on a double-play ground ball off the bat of Blanco. Qualls walked Luis Rodriguez with two outs, but he struck out pinch hitter Chase Headley to end the game and earn his seventh save.
The Diamondbacks (12-16) and Padres (12-16) will conclude their series Thursday afternoon at Petco Park. Dan Haren (3-3, 1.47 ERA) will pitch for Arizona in the 12:35 p.m. contest against San Diego’s Chris Young (2-1, 4.81).
By: Tom Kessler
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