CoJack, D-backs drub Padres
Slugger triples twice, finishes double shy of cycle in rout
PHOENIX -- You had better believe Conor Jackson thought about it.
The D-backs first baseman contemplated stopping at second base so that he could hit for the cycle, rather than legging out a triple in the sixth inning.
But even with his team well on the way to what would be a convincing 9-0 win over Greg Maddux and the Padres on Friday night, Jackson couldn't help himself.
"I'm not going to lie, of course it crossed my mind," Jackson said. "But I think one out, runner on third is also pretty appealing."
What's also appealing, at least for D-backs fans, is the way their team has played of late. The win over the Padres was their 11th in their last 13 games. They lead all of baseball in runs scored and run differential.
Oh, and they also lead the Majors in ERA, and Dan Haren showed why as he held the Padres to just three hits in seven innings of work to win his third straight start.
The two teams came into Friday's game in far different circumstances. The D-backs were idle on Thursday after a three-game trip to San Francisco. Meanwhile, the Padres played, and lost, a 22-inning game against the Rockies, which pushed their arrival in Arizona to around 4 a.m. MST.
"For a team that had a little travel issue and so forth, we tried to jump on them early," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said.
They certainly did that as they roughed up Maddux for six runs in the first inning. Jackson set the tone with a two-run triple in the inning, and Chris Snyder capped it off with a three-run double.
"I wasn't locating anything," Maddux said. "I made mistakes and they hit about every one of them. It was important to pitch well. I never gave us a chance to win. Before we even got going, we were down six runs."
Maddux, who remains one win shy of 350 for his career, will no doubt be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but Chase Field has been house of horrors for him over his distinguished career. The right-hander is now 1-7 with a 6.02 ERA here.
"I can't," Jackson said when asked to explain his team's success against Maddux.
With a bullpen depleted by Thursday's marathon, Maddux gutted out seven innings despite allowing nine runs.
"When we've had Maddux here, it's been early when we've been able to jump on him," Melvin said. "But you have to tip your hat to him, too. They didn't have any long relief, and for him to go out there and give them seven innings in the fashion he did, that's a true professional. He didn't get his 350th today, but he picked his team up."
Haren, meanwhile, was once again the beneficiary of early run support. The D-backs have scored in the first inning of all four of his starts, and in his last three, they've managed to put across 11 runs.
"It's kind of been the same story for me the last couple of times out -- they've been able to score runs early," Haren said. "It seems like every game we're scoring in the first."
The early lead allowed Haren to be aggressive with his pitches, and he allowed a San Diego runner to reach third just once.
Acquired in an eight-player trade with the A's in December, Haren could easily be 4-0 if the D-backs' bullpen had held onto a lead in the season's second game, and in what will certainly be bad news for the rest of the league, he still hasn't hit his stride.
"Tonight, my breaking ball was as good as it's been so far this year," he said. "I feel I still have a little ways to go. I still haven't felt great out there yet. Coming out of spring, I really didn't feel that great -- just a little dead arm, but now I'm kind of just bouncing back and feeling pretty good out there."
So is Jackson, who raised his average to .364 with three homers and 17 RBIs. After his triple in the first, he homered in the second and singled in the third, which left him just a double away from the third cycle in franchise history.
It looked like he was going to get it when he laced a line drive to deep center that hit off Jim Edmonds' glove. Jackson, though, rounded second and headed to third as his teammates in the dugout looked on in disbelief.
"The first one gets us going in the direction we wanted to go and we just never let up all night," Melvin said. "Really put some great at-bats together."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.