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Padres clinch NL West title after defeating D-Backs

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

PHOENIX -- It took San Diego until the final inning of the final game to lock up the NL West title.

That's fitting, because these Padres have a penchant for doing things the hard way. They watched as Trevor Hoffman, baseball's career saves leader, gave up consecutive home runs Sunday before closing out a 7-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on one of the season's strangest plays.

"It's kind of the way it's gone," San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said. "Nothing is easy."

The Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers each finished 88-74, and both teams had already clinched playoff spots. San Diego earned its second straight division title and the Dodgers got the wild card because of the tiebreaker -- the Padres went 13-5 against Los Angeles this season.

On Tuesday, the Padres will open the playoffs at home against St. Louis in a rematch from last year -- the Cardinals swept that series in three games. The Dodgers will start the postseason Wednesday at the New York Mets.

The Padres trailed the Dodgers as late as Sept. 16 before winning 12 of their final 16 games.

The last one will be hard to forget.

Knowing that a victory would clinch the division title, the Padres jumped on Arizona starter Brandon Webb (16-8). They took a 1-0 first-inning lead on Mike Piazza's RBI double, then scored six runs in the fourth to make it 7-0.

Geoff Blum and pitcher Woody Williams singled home runs, Brian Giles drew a bases-loaded walk and Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run double. Another run scored on a wild pitch.

Williams (12-5) allowed four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings, with no walks or strikeouts.

"He pitched great, and then he hit great, too," Webb said.

Williams said the 7-0 lead gave him confidence as the game wore on.

"Nothing to take away from the Diamondbacks, I believe we were just meant to win the division," Williams said. "But they gave us all that we could handle and never quit from the word `go.' "

Webb, a leading Cy Young Award candidate, turned in his worst outing of the season. He allowed seven runs in four innings, his shortest start of the season. He gave up eight hits, walked two and struck out five.

Webb entered the game with a league-best 2.88 ERA. He left with a 3.10 ERA, which ranks third behind Houston's Roy Oswalt (2.98) and St. Louis' Chris Carpenter (3.09).

Trailing 7-0 in the fourth, the Diamondbacks rallied on two homers by Chad Tracy and another by Craig Counsell, probably playing his last game with the team.

Tracy's second homer, a solo shot, came off Hoffman and made it 7-5. The next batter, Conor Jackson, followed with a home run to cut San Diego's lead to 7-6.

Hoffman walked Carlos Quentin and then retired Chris Snyder on a fielder's choice grounder. That set up a bizarre ending.

Pinch-runner Chris Young was on first base when Alberto Callaspo hit a two-out grounder to second baseman Josh Barfield, whose throw pulled Gonzalez off first base.

But Gonzalez alertly threw to second in time to get Young, who slipped as he let the grounder get past him. Second base umpire Larry Poncino originally signaled safe when shortstop Khalil Greene failed to tag Young, then changed the call on a forceout when Bochy protested.

"It was strange," said Gonzalez, who tied a career high with four hits. "When Callaspo hit it, I saw Young jump and try and get away from the ball. I saw him fall, didn't think anything of it at the time, but when Barfield's throw was a little off line I knew I still had a shot at second."

Hoffman, the major league saves leader with 482, wound up with his 46th save in 51 chances.

It was an emotional day for the Diamondbacks, who said goodbye to fan favorite Luis Gonzalez after eight seasons. The club announced last month it would not exercise its $10 million option on the 39-year-old outfielder, the Diamondbacks' leader in most career batting categories.

A sellout crowd of 48,946, the largest regular-season crowd in team history, turned out to honor Gonzalez, whose bloop single drove home the winning run in the 2001 World Series.

The team painted a purple "20" in left field and showed tributes from fans on the center-field video board between innings.

There was also a "4" painted on the dirt behind second base to honor shortstop Craig Counsell, who is also not expected to return in 2007.

Gonzalez, Counsell and pitcher Miguel Batista, who is also unlikely to re-sign with Arizona, are the last remaining roster links to the 2001 World Series champions.

Manager Bob Melvin recognized the three players by having them deliver the lineup card to the umpires.

Counsell left on a high note, hitting a 3-2 pitch from Williams into the right-field seats for his fourth home run, prompting a curtain call from the fans.

Notes

  • The Diamondbacks finished the season with a losing record for the third straight year. Their only other losing season was 1998, their inaugural season. Arizona posted winning records from 1999-2003.
  • Williams, a .176 hitter, singled twice in three at-bats.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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The Padres make it official, clinching the  NL West crown after defeating the D-Backs.  (AP)
The Padres make it official, clinching the NL West crown after defeating the D-Backs. (AP)

Players of the Game
Arizona

C. Tracy
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 2
RBI 3
San Diego

A. Gonzalez
AB 5
R 2
H 4
HR 0
RBI 2
 
San Diego Padres
Dave Roberts, CF-LF4100123
Brian Giles, RF4001101
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B5242010
Mike Piazza, C4121012
    Rob Bowen, C1010000
Russell Branyan, 3B2000022
   a- Khalil Greene, PH-SS3000022
Terrmel Sledge, LF5010013
    Mike Cameron, CF0000000
Geoff Blum, SS-3B4121001
Josh Barfield, 2B4110001
Woody Williams, P3121000
    Alan Embree, P0000000
   b- Ryan Klesko, PH1010000
    Scott Linebrink, P0000000
    Trevor Hoffman, P0000000
Totals4071462915 
a-grounded out for Branyan in the 5th
b-singled for Embree in the 8th
Batting
2B - Adrian Gonzalez (, Webb), Mike Piazza 2 (, Webb, Webb)
RBI - Brian Giles (), Adrian Gonzalez 2 (), Mike Piazza (), Geoff Blum (), Woody Williams ()
2-OUT RBI - Brian Giles (), Adrian Gonzalez 2 (), Mike Piazza (), Geoff Blum (), Woody Williams ()
Team LOB - 8
San Diego Padres
Woody Williams (W,-) 6.2644002
Alan Embree (H,) 0.1000010
Scott Linebrink (H,) 1000000
Trevor Hoffman (S,) 1222102
Pitches-Strikes - Woody Williams 82-50, Alan Embree 4-4, Scott Linebrink 9-5, Trevor Hoffman 22-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Woody Williams 7-13, Scott Linebrink 1-2, Trevor Hoffman 2-1
Batters Faced - Woody Williams 26, Alan Embree 1, Scott Linebrink 3, Trevor Hoffman 6
Arizona Diamondbacks
Craig Counsell, SS4111000
    Stephen Drew, SS0000000
Orlando Hudson, 2B4000000
Luis Gonzalez, LF4000000
    Scott Hairston, LF0000000
Eric Byrnes, CF4110000
Chad Tracy, 3B4333000
Conor Jackson, 1B4111001
Carlos Quentin, RF3010100
Chris Snyder, C3011001
    Chris Young, PR0000000
Brandon Webb, P1000000
    Randy Choate, P0000000
   a- Damion Easley, PH1000001
    Tony Pena, P0000000
    Greg Aquino, P0000000
   b- Johnny Estrada, PH1000011
    Enrique Gonzalez, P0000000
    Miguel Batista, P0000000
    Doug Slaten, P0000000
    Jose Valverde, P0000000
   c- Alberto Callaspo, PH1000001
Totals34686115 
a-lined out for Choate in the 5th
b-struck out for Aquino in the 7th
c-hit into fielder's choice for Valverde in the 9th
Batting
2B - Chad Tracy (, Williams)
HR - Craig Counsell (, Williams), Chad Tracy 2 (, Williams, Hoffman), Conor Jackson (, Hoffman)
SF - Chris Snyder ()
RBI - Craig Counsell (), Chad Tracy 3 (), Conor Jackson (), Chris Snyder ()
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Choate-Hudson-Jackson
Arizona Diamondbacks
Brandon Webb (L,-) 4877250
Randy Choate 1100000
Tony Pena 1100000
Greg Aquino 1000020
Enrique Gonzalez 1200010
Miguel Batista 0.1000000
Doug Slaten0200000
Jose Valverde 0.2000010
WP - Brandon Webb ()
Pitches-Strikes - Brandon Webb 78-46, Randy Choate 11-8, Tony Pena 14-8, Greg Aquino 17-11, Enrique Gonzalez 16-10, Miguel Batista 5-2, Doug Slaten 8-5, Jose Valverde 10-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon Webb 5-2, Randy Choate 2-0, Tony Pena 1-2, Greg Aquino 1-0, Miguel Batista 1-0, Jose Valverde 1-0
Batters Faced - Brandon Webb 22, Randy Choate 3, Tony Pena 4, Greg Aquino 3, Enrique Gonzalez 5, Miguel Batista 1, Doug Slaten 2, Jose Valverde 2
Game Information
Attendance - 48946
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 74
Umpires - Home - Bruce Dreckman, First Base - Ed Hickox, Second Base - Larry Poncino, Third Base - Gary Darling