Padres 3, Diamondbacks 1
SAN DIEGO (AP)—As much as he’d like to focus solely on the playoff chase, Trevor Hoffman simply can’t ignore his pursuit of history.
Hoffman chatted by phone with Lee Smith on Thursday, then went out several hours later and earned his 477th save. That pulled him within one of tying Smith’s all-time record and helped the NL West-leading San Diego Padres beat Arizona 3-1 to keep their half-game lead over Los Angeles.
Smith has been invited to come to San Diego this weekend, when Hoffman could tie or break the record in the Padres’ final home series, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Smith has prior commitments, but that could change.
Hoffman said it wouldn’t change his focus if Smith is in the stands.
“I’d welcome that little opportunity. This isn’t my gig,” Hoffman said. “This is something for major league baseball. I’m glad that something like this could happen for the city of San Diego, and I’m fortunate to be a part of it. To have the opportunity to have a guy like Lee Arthur Smith come to town, that would be a tremendous honor. I’m just humbled by the fact that this thing’s going on.”
A major league baseball representative called Smith on Thursday on behalf of the Padres, and a team official later contacted Smith, who had 478 saves from 1980-1997.
Hoffman called Smith on his own.
“I was a little nervous,” Hoffman said. “There are people who played the game before you. You get a little star-struck.”
Hoffman let Smith know that he’d like to have him in San Diego this weekend, if possible.
“It had been brought to my attention that he didn’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, and that’s just the class guy that he is,” Hoffman said. “I would love for him to be here.
“It was a pretty enjoyable conversation,” Hoffman said. “He’s a nice man. He’s got that Southern drawl from Louisiana. He expressed a desire to be here. He does have prior engagements over the weekend, but I know if he can make it, he’s going to try.”
The 38-year-old Hoffman had two saves in this three-game series after blowing the save in Monday night’s wild 11-10 loss in 10 innings at Los Angeles. Hoffman has pitched four times in five days.
All but two of Hoffman’s saves have been with San Diego, which obtained him from Florida on June 24, 1993, in a five-player deal that sent Gary Sheffield to the Marlins.
“It’s going to be a big moment for all of us,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Hopefully he can do it here at home.”
Mike Cameron hit a two-run triple for the Padres. He also made a nice catch of Eric Brynes’ fly ball against the fence in left-center opening the ninth.
It looked for a bit like the Padres wouldn’t need to call on Hoffman. They loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth against reliever Luis Vizcaino, then failed to score. Bowen struck out before pinch-hitter Todd Walker lined out to first baseman Conor Jackson, who doubled up Adrian Gonzalez.
Hoffman “is just a model of consistency,” Arizona’s Luis Gonzalez said. “He just keeps doing what he does as well as anybody. The way it looks, it seems like he can go on for a while.”
Woody Williams (10-5) won his third straight start. He allowed five hits and an unearned run in 5 2-3 innings, with three strikeouts and one walk.
Brandon Webb (16-7) lost for the first time in four starts against the Padres this year. Coming off consecutive complete-game wins, he allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked one.
Williams got into and out of a jam in the sixth, when the Diamondbacks scored their only run, on Jackson’s RBI single.
San Diego’s Dave Roberts hit his 13th triple, tying Tony Gwynn’s season franchise record set in 1987. … Cameron matched his career high with his ninth triple. He also had nine for Cincinnati in 1999. … San Diego’s Brian Giles drew 100 walks for the second straight year. He led the majors with 119.