Padres 3, Diamondbacks 2

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SAN DIEGO (AP)—Back from the disabled list, Randy Johnson looked more like an ordinary pitcher than a dominating ace.

The five-time Cy Young winner allowed a tying homer to utility infielder Lou Merloni, and the last-place San Diego Padres beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 Sunday.

Out for 2 1/2 months following knee surgery, Johnson (1-3) allowed two runs— one earned—and six hits in six innings. But he walked two, hit two batters with pitches and was called for a balk in his first start since April 27.

The Big Unit threw 100 pitches. His fastball was clocked from 91 to 96 mph, and most of his six strikeouts came on sliders.

Merloni homered in the third, and the Padres went ahead 2-1 in the fourth on third baseman Shea Hillenbrand’s throwing error.

Johnson went on the disabled list April 28 and had arthroscopic surgery three days later to remove bone chips and loose cartilage from his right knee.

He lost for just the second time in 13 career decisions against the Padres.

Ryan Klesko had a pinch-hit home run in the seventh off Mike Myers, his 20th of the season, and the Padres won two straight to split the four-game series.

Arizona, which outscored San Diego 15-1 in the first two games of the series, had just five singles. Three came in the eighth when they chased Kevin Jarvis, including Hillenbrand’s RBI hit. But with two outs and runners on first and third, 46-year-old Jesse Orosco got Steve Finley to fly out to left.

Jarvis (3-2) outpitched Johnson to win his third straight start, including consecutive wins over the Diamondbacks. He allowed two runs on three hits in 7 1-3 innings, struck out three and walked two.

After allowing an RBI single to Matt Kata with none out in the third, Jarvis retired 16 straight batters until being chased by Craig Counsell’s infield single.

Rod Beck struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 10th save in 10 chances.

Two years ago, Johnson created a major stir by hitting Jarvis with a 94 mph fastball in a win over the Padres in Phoenix, forcing Jarvis out of the game with a bruised right triceps.

Merloni, starting at third in place of left-hander Sean Burroughs, homered into the left-field seats on a 91 mph fastball from Johnson on a 1-1 count leading off the third inning. It was Merloni’s first homer in 143 at-bats, dating to Aug. 30 against Cleveland, when he was with Boston.

San Diego went ahead 2-1 in the fourth when Gary Matthews Jr. doubled to the gap in left-center with one out, then scored on Hillenbrand’s error on Xavier Nady’s grounder. Hillenbrand’s throw to first was in the dirt. Mark Grace blocked it, but it bounced off his chest and rolled about eight feet away. Grace’s throw home was too late.

It was Hillenbrand’s third error in two games.

In the sixth, Johnson allowed a one-out single to Miguel Ojeda and a double to Nady. Merloni was intentionally walked and Jarvis forced Ojeda at home. Ramon Vazquez flied out to end the inning.

Klesko homered with two outs in the seventh to make it 3-1.

Johnson made three minor league rehabilitation starts before returning to the Diamondbacks. In his most recent appearance Tuesday, he was tagged for five runs on 11 hits over six innings, pitching for Class-A Lancaster against RanchoCucamonga in the California League.


Johnson was activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game. To make room on the roster, RHP Brady Raggio was sent outright to Triple-A Tucson…. Klekso has six career pinch-hit homers.

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