PHOENIX -- It was a well-worn path that Padres manager Bud Black walked in the ninth inning on Thursday, one that offered little variance with scenery that rated as dismal at best.
But it was altogether necessary for Black, who called upon five different pitchers to cover the final three outs of the Padres' 6-5 victory over the D-backs in front of a crowd of 17,821 at Chase Field.
"I'm going to go ice my knees when I'm done talking to you guys," Black joked afterwards.
Who could blame him?
Leading by one run entering the ninth inning, interim closer Luke Gregerson allowed the first two hitters to reach base, the second coming on an error by second baseman Logan Forsythe, who had every intention of turning a double play.
"I was a little too quick and I overran the ball," Forsythe said of the error. "But at a time when you want to scream, you've got to clear your head, because the next ball could be hit right at you."
Black went to his bullpen for lefty Joe Thatcher, who walked Jason Kubel to load the bases. Black's next trip was to replace Thatcher with rookie Nick Vincent, who was able to get a pinch-hitter Mike Jacobs to pop out in foul territory for the first out.
With lefty Adam Eaton due up, Black went to the bullpen again for lefty Tommy Layne, who got Eaton to hit a ball right at Forsythe, with the infield pulled in. Forsythe handled this one cleanly and threw home for the force and the second out.
"Just missed it," Eaton said. "I think it was a cutter away. Most of the time with the infield in, you can get a ball through on a hard hit up the middle. That's what I was trying to do. It didn't work out."
With the last pitching move of the game, Black summoned Anthony Bass to face Aaron Hill, who hit a home run earlier in the game to help the D-backs (74-75) come back from deficits of 3-0 and 6-2.
Bass threw two fastballs and two sliders, the last of which Hill tried to check his swing. But home plate umpire Paul Nauert ruled that Hill did not hold up and the game was over.
For Bass, it was his first career save, though don't look for him to make a run at All-Star closer Huston Street -- who will be reinstated from the disabled list on Friday.
"One save doesn't make you a closer," Bass said. "I just gripped it and let it go."
Black was impressed with the way the young relievers -- Vincent and Layne are rookies and Bass has minimal service time -- handled the high leverage situation against a tough lineup.
"I liked the way they handled themselves," Black said. "This was a difficult game. We had a nice cushion and then they kept getting closer and closer. But I think it's a great confidence builder for those guys."
The Padres (72-78) started fast on Thursday, as Jesus Guzman hit a three-run home run in the first inning. A run-scoring double by Forsythe in the second inning made it 4-1.
The Padres tacked on two runs in the sixth inning on RBI doubles by Chris Denorfia and Chase Headley. For Headley, it was his 105th RBI of the season.
San Diego starting pitcher Clayton Richard (14-12) allowed four runs on eight hits with one walk in six innings. He got 10 groundball outs and was long gone by the time the procession of relievers began in the ninth inning.
Justin Upton had three hits and finished a home run shy of the cycle. The D-backs cut the lead to 6-5 on a solo home run by Eaton in the seventh inning, the first homer of his career.
Arizona rookie starter Tyler Skaggs (1-3) allowed four runs on seven hits over five innings. He had three walks and two strikeouts.
But Richard and Skaggs were reduced to mere footnotes after a wild finish.
"It's not really how you draw it up," Black said. "But you never know how a game is going to play out."