Young stars, but Padres fall
Right-hander goes five scoreless innings in mound return
SAN DIEGO -- You know it's officially a season gone awry when even a feel-good story like the return of pitcher Chris Young is obscured by the indignity of nearly being no-hit.
Such was the case Tuesday when Young, making his first start in nine weeks since being felled by a line drive to the face, saw his long-awaited return overshadowed by his counterpart, Arizona's Doug Davis.
Davis retired the first 20 hitters he faced before allowing a clean, two-out single to Brian Giles in the seventh inning as the Diamondbacks coasted to a 3-0 victory over the Padres before a crowd of 29,131 who nearly witnessed history.
The Padres, who haven't been no-hit since 2001 and have never gone hitless since they moved to PETCO Park in 2004, weren't facing Brandon Webb or Dan Haren, certainly the more heralded and successful pitchers on Arizona's staff, though you could not tell that much for most of Tuesday.
Davis, who entered the game with a 4.22 ERA, mixed his fastball and curveball and had an abundance of success with getting the Padres' hitters to expand the strike zone, going after pitches out of the strike zone that produced plenty of misses.
"He worked the ball down and away, in on our hands and up in the strike zone," Padres manager Bud Black said of Davis, now 7-3 in his career against San Diego. "He's been tough on us the last couple of years."
As for Young, well, he wasn't bad either, striking out six of the first seven hitters that he faced. On a pitch count of around 90, Young used 88 pitches to get through five innings, striking out eight, allowing two hits and two walks without allowing a run.
"Overall, I felt good. I had a great time tonight," said Young, who had not pitched in a Major League game since May 21 when he was hit in the nose by a line drive from the Cardinals' Albert Pujols, an injury that required two surgeries and over two months away from the team.
"I was aggressive with my fastball. My command wasn't as sharp as I would have liked for it to be. Being out there competing, it was a great time."
But the night clearly belonged to Davis (4-5), who missed nearly two months early this season after having surgery for thyroid cancer, struck out eight batters and coasted into the seventh inning where he got two quick outs before allowing Giles' single into center field.
"He was able to throw his cutter, fastballs, changeups, slider and breaking balls for strikes anytime he wanted to throw it," Giles said. "When you get four or five of your pitches going and throw it when you want, it makes for a tough night."
The rest of the night for Davis didn't go nearly as well, as he allowed a single to Chase Headley with one out in the eighth inning before sandwiching a pair of walks to Khalil Greene and Josh Bard around a fly-ball out.
Davis then left the game after 124 pitches with reliever Jon Rauch called in to finish the inning. The Padres nearly finished him, though, as pinch-hitter Jody Gerut jumped on a fastball, sending it high and toward the gap in right-center field when right fielder Alex Romero made a running basket catch to end the inning.
"What a good swing, he drove the ball to the deepest part of the park," Black said. "That play was phenomenal. At the crack of the bat, he took off and he made a hell of a play."
If that ball isn't caught, it might have tied the game, especially with runners moving on contact. Instead, it provided a frustrating end to a inning where the Padres chance to chase a run home were few and far between.
All told, the Padres finished with just the two hits -- singles by Giles and Headley -- and two walks to go with 10 strikeouts.
Before getting into trouble in the eighth inning, Davis essentially had his way with the Padres. Nick Hundley hit a scorching ground ball in the hole between first and second base that Orlando Hudson made a nice play on in the third inning.
Then with two outs in the sixth inning, Romero made a nice running catch near the line on pinch-hitter Luis Rodriguez's soft fly ball.
The D-backs scored all three of their runs in the sixth inning against Padres relief pitcher Clay Hensley as, you guessed it, Romero knocked in two runs with a single.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.