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Diamondbacks salvage series split vs. Padres, await return of injured players

SAN DIEGO — The Arizona Diamondbacks would probably rather be known for other things, and maybe by September they will be, but it seems their early-season identity was once again on display on Sunday afternoon at Petco Park, where they did something that has become the norm for them this year.

They salvaged a series.

Teams can salvage a series by avoiding a sweep. They can salvage a series by earning a split, which the Diamondbacks did with their 9-3 win on Sunday. Or they can salvage a long road trip by winning the finale.

The Diamondbacks are experts at each.

For a club that advanced to the World Series last October, then had an active winter to bolster the roster, the Diamondbacks are anything but content with merely keeping their year from going off the rails.

But considering the injuries they have sustained, including the fact they remain without three-fifths of their projected season-opening rotation, staying within shouting distance of .500 for the first 10 weeks of the season feels like it might deserve a passing grade.

Manager Torey Lovullo took Sunday’s win a step further: He said it belonged squarely in the “mid-season must-win category,” his thinking being that their ugly losses in the second and third games of the series — they were outscored 23-4 the previous two days — made Sunday feel of outsized importance.

“We want to start playing consistent baseball,” Lovullo said. “We know what our overall record is. You want to keep pushing towards .500 and then eventually get over .500. I felt like given what we had gone through from Day 1 to Day 4 (in this series) , it was an important win for us.”

Jake McCarthy had three hits, including a two-run homer. Kevin Newman had three singles and three others had multi-hit games. They won on a day in which they needed to churn through their bullpen, playing matchups from the first inning on. After allowing single runs in each of the first three innings, the Diamondbacks held the Padres scoreless the rest of the way.

The Diamondbacks jumped in front 7-1 after an inning and a half thanks to a six-run second inning off Padres rookie Adam Mazur. McCarthy mentioned how the early lead changed the feel of game, and it felt particularly important given the blowout losses over the previous two days.

“That’s never fun, losing like that, especially to a division opponent,” McCarthy said. “It’s nice that we could salvage a split here. With how one-sided it was the past two days here, I think it’s a win for us.”

If the Diamondbacks, who are 31-35, look up in another 10 weeks and still find themselves struggling to find their footing, it will likely be highly alarming. Not that it isn’t registering as a concern now, but in a National League that features only four teams with winning records, it is hard to get too worked up about the Diamondbacks’ uneven start.

After Sunday’s win, they are only one game out of a wild-card spot, and they are about to enter a soft portion of their schedule, with upcoming series against the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals coming up in succession.

Moreover, they expect to get back all of their injured players in the coming weeks, some sooner than later. Shortstop Geraldo Perdomo could be back for Tuesday’s series opener against the Angels. Right-hander Zac Gallen might throw off a mound this week, while right-hander Merrill Kelly and lefty Eduardo Rodriguez continue to progress in their throwing programs.

For now, the Diamondbacks can step away from baseball for the first time in two weeks. Their scheduled off day on Monday ends a 13-day stretch of games.

“It’s going to be a really good off day,” Lovullo said. “The only decision I have to make tomorrow is if I want the pool water to be this high on my body or this high on my body. That’s all I’m thinking about.”

Short hop

Center fielder Alek Thomas, who continues his rehab from a hamstring strain, ran the bases over the weekend and is expected to take live at-bats where he runs out of the batter’s box, Lovullo said. “(Rehab) games are a definite possibility (for this week),” Lovullo said.

Coming up

Monday: Off.

Tuesday: At Chase Field, 6:40 p.m., Diamondbacks LHP Jordan Montgomery (3-4, 6.80) vs. Angels LHP Jose Suarez (1-0, 6.54).

Wednesday: At Chase Field, 6:40 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Slade Cecconi (1-4, 5.66) vs. Angels RHP Jose Soriano (3-5, 3.64).

Thursday: At Chase Field, 6:40 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Brandon Pfaadt (2-5, 4.60) vs. Angels RHP Griffin Canning (2-6, 4.65).

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Offense leads way as DBacks earn series split vs. Padres