Published August 27, 2011
| Sports Network
Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson decided not to take batting practice for three straight games in order for his players to stay fresh. Whether he's superstitious or not, Gibson's plan worked and the team is unbeaten since.
"It's been part of the reason why I think we've been a little rejuvenated," Gibson told Arizona's website.
He then gave the nod for batting practice on Friday and the Diamondbacks cruised to a 5-0 win -- their fourth in a row -- over the San Diego Padres in the opener of a three-game series from Chase Field. It's unknown what Gibson will do tonight in the second installment of this series.
The National League West-leading Diamondbacks recorded four runs in the bottom of the first inning, while Chris Young and Aaron Hill each had an RBI. Ryan Roberts and Justin Upton both had two hits for Arizona, which is three games ahead of San Francisco for the division lead.
"Any time you can get a couple of runs before you go back out for the second inning, it's huge," said Collmenter. "A lot of times just one run makes the difference. It helps your confidence."
Arizona is scheduled to host Colorado on this homestand as well. It will send Joe Saunders to the hill Saturday and he's 0-3 with a 6.56 ERA in his last four starts. Saunders was on the losing end of a 4-1 setback at Washington on Monday, as he allowed four runs and six hits in six innings of work to fall to 8-11 in 26 starts this season with a 3.98 ERA.
Saunders is only 2-5 in 12 home starts this season and went the distance in a 6-1 victory at San Diego on July 26. In the 6-1 win over the Padres, the lefty gave up a run and six hits for his first complete game of the season. Saunders is 3-3 with a 4.14 ERA in six career starts against San Diego.
The Padres have dropped two straight since winning five in a row and didn't get much help from starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc, who allowed five runs -- four earned -- and seven hits in four innings.
Jason Bartlett and Logan Forsythe had two hits apiece in the loss.
"We had some opportunities, but the difference was that they bunched their hits together and got some runs," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Today, we couldn't get the hit to get our inning going."
San Diego is 1-2 on an eight-game road trip and will also visit Los Angeles. In other team news, closer Heath Bell will remain with the team for the remainder of the season unless he's placed on waivers again. San Francisco claimed him off waivers Wednesday and the Padres had to either work out a trade, allow the Giants to have him or let the waiver period expire.
"At the end of the day, I think I'm coming back next year," Bell said on the team's site. "We're not talking [the Padres and Bell's agents], but I feel like something is going to happen."
Aaron Harang draws the start for the Padres tonight and he's 3-0 in his previous four starts and 8-1 with a 3.82 earned run average through the past 16 trips to the hill. The Padres are 11-5 in that stretch and posted a 14-1 win over the Marlins in Harang's last start a week ago Saturday.
Harang limited the Marlins to a run and three hits in six innings to improve to 12-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 22 starts this season. The right-hander and San Diego native defeated Arizona in a 4-3 decision on May 8, when he gave up two runs and eight hits in seven innings. He is 3-4 with a 1.82 ERA in 11 career games (10 starts) against the D'Backs.
The veteran right-hander is a perfect 6-0 with a lofty 4.65 ERA in nine road starts this season.
Arizona leads the season series with San Diego, 5-4.