SAN DIEGO (AP)—With 38 games to play, the San Diego Padres have matched last year’s win total of 75.
It’s a sign of their big turnaround, but the Padres want a lot more.
Will Venable(notes) and Chris Denorfia(notes) hit two-run homers while left-hander Clayton Richard(notes) combined with four relievers on a five-hitter to help the NL West-leading Padres to a 5-0 win over the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.
The Padres improved to an NL-best 75-49. Last year, they went 37-25 in the final two months to finish 75-87, leapfrogging Arizona to finish in fourth place.
“If you look at those kind of numbers, obviously it shows how much we’ve progressed,” Venable said. “But the 75 wins last year, that was last year. We planned coming into the season to get more wins than that, so it’s nice to be on track.”
Said manager Bud Black: “We’ll try to get 76 tomorrow.”
The Padres retained their 5 1/2 -game lead over the San Francisco Giants, who beat Cincinnati 16-5. The Padres began a stretch in which they will play 16 games in 20 days at home, where they have won five straight and 13 of 16. Besides this three-game series, the Padres will play the Diamondbacks (49-77) again next week in Phoenix. Arizona has lost eight of 11.
Richard (12-5) won his career-best fifth straight decision, over six starts. He allowed three hits while striking out eight and walking five. It was San Diego’s 16th shutout, second in the majors behind the New York Mets’ 18.
Richard had runners on in five of his six innings, but none advanced beyond second base.
“He worked his way out of a couple of jams. He’s got the arm, he’s got the makeup, he’s got the aptitude to be a successful pitcher,” Black said.
“I was able to mix it up enough and throw enough strikes to keep them off balance, and really trust the defense,” Richard said.
The Diamondbacks were shut out in consecutive games. They lost 1-0 to Colorado on Sunday.
“We had opportunities the last two games and we haven’t hit the ball,” Diamondbacks interim manager Kirk Gibson said. “I don’t mean not to give him credit,” Gibson added, referring to Richard, “but at the same time, we expect more than that.”
Venable homered to right-center on a 2-0 pitch from Rodrigo Lopez(notes) (5-12) with one out in the second, his 11th. Chase Headley(notes) was aboard on a leadoff double. Denorfia drove the first pitch he saw from Lopez into the second deck with two outs in the fourth, his ninth. Venable was aboard on a walk.
Lopez has allowed 32 homers, the highest in the majors and matching his career-high set with Baltimore in 2006.
“He’s not been able to locate,” Gibson said. “On the two home runs, those are pitches that we don’t want to see in those situations.”
Lopez allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings, struck out one and walked one. Starting with an 8-5 loss at San Diego on July 17, Lopez is 0-5 with a 6.90 ERA in his last eight starts.
“I’m working, trying to keep the team in the game,” Lopez said. “Things are not working. There’s not much I can do. I need to keep myself positive.”
NOTES: Chargers rookie RB Ryan Mathews threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Black said RHP Chris Young will throw another simulated game sometime later this week as he continues his rehab. Young has been on the DL since April 12 with a strained shoulder and would like to pitch again this season. Time is running out, though, to send him on a rehab assignment in the minors. Black said Young’s sessions will get longer and more intense each time. … The Diamondbacks are 19-41 on the road, second-worst in the NL.