Padres 6, Diamondbacks 3
SAN DIEGO (AP)—Trevor Hoffman is back, even if the theatrics aren’t.
Hoffman pitched a perfect seventh inning in his first appearance of the season, and Phil Nevin and Mark Loretta homered as the San Diego Padres beat the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks 6-3 on Tuesday night.
Hoffman, fifth on the career list with 352 saves, was activated from the disabled list after missing the first five months following two offseason surgeries on his right shoulder.
With the Padres leading 5-1 and the crowd cheering, Hoffman came jogging in to start the seventh. He retired the side on eight pitches, then Nevin, the first baseman, shook his hand as they headed to the dugout.
“He said, `Welcome back,’ and gave me the ball,” Hoffman said. “And he said, `That ball was hit a little bit too hard, so don’t let them hit it that hard next time.’ “
Hoffman keeps the game ball from each of his saves, and will save the ball Nevin handed him.
“It’s a little token of another step in this whole journey,” Hoffman said.
The only thing missing was AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” blaring from the loudspeakers to announce Hoffman’s arrival on the mound. With the right-hander likely to throw in non-save situations for his first three appearances, Hoffman felt it best not to play the song.
“I think some of the theatrics should be saved for the ninth inning,” he said. “We weren’t real sure what type of situation I might be coming into, 10 runs down or 10 runs up. I felt a little remiss that it wasn’t played, but at the same time I’m glad they respected our wishes about not trying to make a big deal of it.”
Hoffman threw seven fastballs—all clocked at 86 mph—and one curveball. He didn’t throw his trademark changeup because catcher Gary Bennett didn’t call for it.
“I tried to locate my pitches and have some composure out there,” Hoffman said. “My heart was racing and I’m trying to fight those type of emotions.I just wanted to go out there and be normal and get in and get out.”
His first pitch was a strike to Rod Barajas, who flied out to center. Hoffman made the putout on pinch-hitter Mark Grace’s grounder to first baseman Nevin, then got Craig Counsell to ground out to end the inning.
“He looked sharp,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s only going to make us better.”
In Hoffman’s absence, Rod Beck has converted all 20 save situations for the last-place Padres.
After the game, Beck handed Hoffman a beer.
Brian Giles went 0-for-3 with a walk and one RBI in his home debut with the Padres a week after they acquired him from Pittsburgh.
The Diamondbacks, who started the day four games out in the wild-card race, lost their fourth straight and were defeated for the 13th time in 19 games.
Shea Hillenbrand homered off Ben Howard (1-0), who earned his first major league win, with one out in the second. That lead was quickly erased when Nevin hit a leadoff homer—his seventh—off Chris Capuano (1-3) in the bottom of the inning and Gary Bennett added an RBI single.
Loretta hit a disputed shot in the seventh, his 10th. Loretta’s fly ball down the left-field line was at first called foul by third-base umpire Jim Reynolds. But after the crew conferred, plate ump Laz Diaz ruled it a homer, giving the Padres a 6-1 lead.
Felix Jose hit a two-run homer—his first in the majors since last September—off Luther Hackman in the ninth to make it 6-3.
“It felt good to contribute,” the 38-year-old journeyman said. “It’s been a long time. At my age, you wonder. I know I can still play, but you have to produce when you are given the chance and I did tonight.”
Loretta, who had three hits and two RBIs, hit an RBI single in the fourth. Nevin also drove in two runs.
Howard allowed one run and six hits in six innings, struck out three and walked one. Capuano lasted only 3 2-3 innings, giving up five runs and ninehits. He struck out two and walked one.
Padres 1B Ryan Klesko had an MRI on his sore right shoulder Tuesday that showed damage to the AC joint. The team will decide whether he should have surgery soon or wait until the season’s over. Klesko said his rotator cuff is OK. … Howard got his first career hit, a single to left in the third. … Following an afternoon game in San Diego on Wednesday, the Diamondbacks will fly to Kansas City to play a makeup game Thursday, then fly back to San Francisco to open a three-game series Friday. … Diamondbacks RF Raul Mondesileft with a mild right groin strain and is listed as day to day.