Pitcher David Hernandez is the Arizona Diamondbacks' money man in the eighth inning, the guy who sets the table for closer J.J Putz and sets the stage for a Snakes' win. Wednesday afternoon, however, Hernandez faltered, and the San Diego Padres rallied in the bottom of the eighth for two runs to take the lead and ultimately win the game, 2-1.
Arizona (4-1) lost for the first time this season, snapping a record four-game win streak to open 2012. After three one-run games and an extra-innings affair Tuesday, good fortune caught up to the D-backs. Chris Denorfia, one of many Padres who'd struggled at the plate thus far this season, hit a two-run home run with Cameron Maybin on base after a walk, and Huston Street earned the save with a scoreless ninth inning as the previously NL West bottom-dwelling Padres improved to 2-4.
Street retired Justin Upton on a lazy pop fly to former D-back Orlando Hudson to end the game, Upton slamming his bat against the dirt after the swing.
Denorfia was in the lineup because the Padres were facing a left-handed starter in Joe Saunders, making his season debut. Saunders was sharp for seven innings, shutting out the Padres on four hits. The plan was working to perfection -- a good start then manager Kirk Gibson turning it over to his dual bullpen aces, Hernandez and eventually Putz.
Except Hernandez threw a fastball up and down the middle, and Denorfia crushed it over the wall in dead center field at spacious Petco Park, where home runs normally go to die.
Until the fateful eighth, Arizona held on to a 1-0 lead after scoring one run off Padres starter Cory Luebke in the first inning. Luebke, bombed by the Dodgers in his first start of the season, threw more than 40 pitches in the first inning alone, and a two-out walk to Jason Kubel allowed Willie Bloomquist to trot home. The D-backs left the bases loaded in that inning.
Luebke righted himself and lasted 5 1/3 innings, then the Padres' bullpen did its job. Ernesto "Big Ern" Frieri earned the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Arizona welcomed back Upton to the lineup after he didn't start Tuesday due to a sore left thumb. Upton was 0-for-3 with two walks.