D-backs offense comes alive late
Drew, Young have late hits to provide tying, winning runs
PHOENIX -- Orlando Hudson is simply tired of talking about it."I'm dead serious," he said. Of course, he's referring to the Diamondbacks' hot streak, which has led them to the best record in baseball at 13-4. The route they have taken to get to that record, though, is something no one seems to be able to explain. "We're not psychic," Hudson said. "We didn't know this was going to happen. Right now we're just going to keep playing Diamondbacks baseball and see where we're at in the ninth inning. Let's try to do that for 162 [games], but that's hard to do. "Right now things are going our way," Hudson said. "You know how the game goes. It's a crazy game." After 17 games, not only have the D-backs shed any trace of last year's talk of overachieving after making the postseason with a negative run differential, but they are turning heads with the style in which they have won games, now scoring double their opponents' output on the season, 112-56. It's not a style the D-backs are familiar with, but it's easing the pressure off the pitching staff, as well as manager Bob Melvin. "We've played some close games," Melvin said. "Last year it just seemed like every game was a close game. We were used to playing them. We had some success in them, you're confidence is there when you play enough of them. "Now it's like we don't play too many of them. We're used to having such a big lead that all of a sudden now when it's close, it's just a different feeling. It's just not the same type of game we're used to playing, but I'll take a six-run eighth anytime." The D-backs have been accustomed to scoring early, but on Saturday they played the role of comeback kids, scoring nine runs in the last three innings, touching up the Padres' bullpen for eight of them. Stephen Drew hit an RBI double off the glove of left fielder Paul McAnulty in the seventh, scoring Justin Upton to tie the game at 3. The D-backs took the lead for good on Chris Young's RBI single three batters later. "Everybody's just picking each other up," Drew said. "It's just one of those things that hopefully we can keep going on throughout the year. Everybody's catching on fire with each other. You never know what's going to happen. It's early in the season, but hopefully we can just keep after it and keep scoring runs." In the eighth, the D-backs tacked on six more runs, five of them unearned, after shortstop Khalil Greene couldn't handle a routine ground ball. On the other side, the D-backs benefited from some solid defensive play up the middle, specifically from Drew, who saved a run with a spectacular play, throwing out Kevin Kouzmanoff in the seventh. "Our defense has been solid, [except for] one game in San Francisco," Melvin said. The D-backs scored a run in the second inning when starting pitcher Edgar Gonzalez hit an RBI double. The Padres tied it in the fourth on a Paul McAnulty homer and took the lead the next inning on Brian Giles' 384-foot home run to right field. McAnulty's home run was the first for the Padres in 106 innings. Gonzalez allowed three runs in six innings but got a no-decision as the rally began after he left. It was Gonzalez's first start since having an infected tooth removed on Monday. Juan Cruz pitched a scoreless seventh to pick up his first win of the season. The D-backs and Padres, teams which battled all season for the National League West title last year, are going in opposite directions. The D-backs have won four straight, while the Padres have lost four straight and now sit 5 1/2 games out of first. "They're the hottest team in baseball," Padres pitcher Chris Young said. "They're a good hitting team. They showed us last year they were the team to beat in the division. They've got another year under their belt, and they believe in themselves." On the D-backs side of things, they're still trying to figure out where it's all coming from. "I don't think anyone could have predicted this," Melvin said. "As far as the number of runs, the way we've been doing offensively, the potential always existed, but you didn't think to the extent to we're seeing it right now after 17 games that we'd have as many runs as we do."
Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.