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ARI@SD: Kubel opens scoring with bases-loaded walk

SAN DIEGO -- When the ball left Chris Denorfia's bat in the eighth inning, headed toward straightaway center field, the Padres outfielder wasn't sure he had gotten enough of it.

One the pitcher's mound, D-backs right-hander David Hernandez thought it would come up short of the wall.

Center fielder Chris Young, however, knew immediately that the ball had the distance, but he thought that he would have a chance to reach over the wall and bring it back.

Instead, the ball just cleared the fence for a two-run homer that led the Padres past the D-backs, 2-1, on Wednesday afternoon at Petco Park.

The loss was the first of the season for the D-backs, who had set a franchise record by winning their first four games.

It is easy to look back at the eighth inning as the key moment in the game, but really the D-backs lost this one earlier when they failed time after time to take advantage of scoring chances. Arizona stranded 11 baserunners, including twice leaving the bases loaded.

"We had many opportunities," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We weren't very good with runners in scoring position, couldn't get the big hit tonight."

It started early when Padres starter Cory Luebke had trouble finding the strike zone early and the D-backs did not make him pay.

Willie Bloomquist led off the game by drawing a walk and after Aaron Hill grounded out, Justin Upton also drew a walk.

It looked like Luebke might find a way out of the inning when he struck out Miguel Montero, but he followed that up by issuing back-to-back walks to Young and Jason Kubel to force in a run.

Luebke got out of the jam and after throwing a whopping 43 pitches in that frame. He managed to settle in and pitch into the sixth inning.

"Oh man, how many guys did we leave on base today, 11?" Montero said. "You've got to give credit to their pitcher Luebke. The first inning we should have gotten more than one run. We should have been able to get at least two runs in that inning. We didn't execute the little things to get the job done and that's the difference."

Thanks to an outstanding start from Joe Saunders, the D-backs were able to make that one run stand for seven innings. The left-hander battled a cramp in his left calf to scatter four hits and two walks while striking out four over seven innings.

"Joe was outstanding," Montero said. "He mixed pitches, he worked and he battled."

Hernandez came on to start the eighth and with one out he issued a walk to Cameron Maybin.

Up stepped Denorfia, who was 2-for-2 against Hernandez including a broken-bat single Tuesday night.

After running the count to 2-1, Hernandez threw a 94-mph fastball that Denorfia smacked to center.

"To be honest I didn't think the ball was going to go that far," Hernandez said. "I was pitching him away, hopefully play the park. It was a little more elevated than I wanted and he got the sweet part of the bat on it."

Denorfia was running hard out of the box, because he knows the ball doesn't tend to carry well here.

"You never know when you hit it to center field," Denorfia said. "I'm just glad it was a day game and the heavy air didn't knock it down."

Young, who robbed Mike Cameron of a home run in 2007 at Petco Park and Ty Wigginton of one in Coors Field last year had visions of doing it again.

"I kind of saw it happening when I was going back to it, in my mind I'm like I think I may have a chance to rob this one," Young said. "I knew it was going to be a homer off the bat so it's just can you get to the wall in time to give yourself a chance. I got to the wall in time but I think I need about two more feet. It was just out of reach."

When he thinks he's going to have to reach for a ball, Young slides his glove up on his hand a bit and he did that Wednesday. As he hit the wall while jumping the force of the collision knocked his glove off his hand and over the wall. As the glove went over the wall, the ball actually struck it. That's how close he was.

"Yeah, but my glove wasn't on my hand," Young said.

And to be fair that wasn't the deciding play.

"It's not Dave's fault," Young said. "We had a lot of chances today. Put ourselves in good positions offensively to where we could have blown any of those innings open, it just didn't happen."

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