SAN DIEGO -- Joe Saunders did not feel particularly good Tuesday night, but you would never have known that given how the D-backs left-hander pitched.
Saunders tossed his first complete game of the year as the D-backs beat the Padres, 6-1, in front of 22,679 at PETCO Park.
The win, combined with the Giants' loss to the Phillies, pulled second-place Arizona to within three games of San Francisco in the National League West.
"We couldn't quite bunch any hits together throughout the game," said Padres manager Bud Black. "[Saunders] did a good job of keeping the ball down and away from us. As the game went on, he threw some good pitches inside, you know, he kept the ball in the middle of the plate."
Saunders has now won four of his past five decisions to raise his record to 7-8.
"Joe was great," said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson. "Real good changeup tonight, and he was throwing all his pitches in all the counts. It was just what we needed."
Saunders didn't feel sharp coming out of the bullpen to start the game, but he had the Padres swinging early in the count and he let them put the ball in play while taking advantage of PETCO's spacious dimensions.
"My velocity wasn't there tonight, but my command was there, so when you can fall back on your command and fall back on mixing up your pitches and throwing all your pitches for strikes, it's pretty special," Saunders said.
It was quite a contrast from his outing earlier this year in San Diego, when he walked a pair of Padres in the first inning and allowed four runs in the frame.
"The numbers in this park -- it's a pitcher's park, everyone knows that -- but for me, it was about pounding the strike zone throwing strikes, putting them on the defense rather than the offense," Saunders said. "When you get yourself into trouble is when you start throwing balls and walking guys, so for me, it's about throwing strikes."
Saunders was one out away from recording his third career shutout, but Jesus Guzman spoiled it when he jumped on a first-pitch fastball and blasted it over the wall in left-center.
'It's no fun to lose a shutout, but he kind of ambushed me there. You live and you learn," Saunders said. "Next time it's going to be a different pitch, you never know. Just happy about the complete game, haven't gotten one this year, so hopefully we can keep it going."
The D-backs took a 2-0 lead in the third against Padres starter Dustin Moseley thanks to an RBI triple by Kelly Johnson and a sacrifice fly by Justin Upton.
The top of the D-backs' lineup set the tone, with Willie Bloomquist, Johnson and Upton combining to go 7-for-12 with four RBIs.
Arizona padded its lead in the sixth when Upton hit a first-pitch curveball on a line into the seats in left-center for his 18th homer of the season.
"When I hit it, I thought it was a line drive in the gap for two or three," Upton said. "Then I kept looking up and I was like, 'That ball is going to leave.' It was definitely surprising, here at this stadium at that part of the park, but I think if you keep it low here, it will usually go for you."
Later in the inning, the D-backs added a run when former Arizona second baseman Orlando Hudson caught Ryan Roberts' pop fly, and, thinking it was the third out, threw the ball to the ball girl on the right-field line, and she tossed it into the stands.
That was only the second out of the inning, and by rule, the runners advanced two bases, which allowed Chris Young to score from second and give Arizona a 4-0 lead. Johnson added an RBI single in the seventh and Young drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth.
The win was the seventh in the past 10 games for the D-backs, who have continued to play well despite losing shortstop Stephen Drew to a season-ending injury last Wednesday.
"There's just a good flow to the team right now," Gibson said.