Padres move to .500, aim higher

Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Padres aren't settling for .500 baseball. They believe they are better than that.
"Obviously, you want to win as many games as possible," pitcher Jason Marquis said. "I don't think a team has made the playoffs with an under .500 record. It was a goal (to reach .500).
"But the end goal is to win as many games as possible and get to the playoffs. Hopefully, we can keep this good stretch of baseball going."
The Padres reached .500 for the first time in more than two years and extended their good stretch of baseball with another win Saturday night. Yasmani Grandal hit a three-run homer, Kyle Blanks added a solo blast and Marquis won his eighth consecutive decision as the Padres beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 before 29,756 at Petco Park.
San Diego hasn't been at .500 since April 10, 2011, when it started the season 4-4. The drought covers a span of 383 games.
Marquis (9-2), who hasn't lost since April 22 to. the Milwaukee Brewers, gave up three runs and three hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out three. Closer Huston Street allowed a run in the ninth before posting his 12th save, and his first since coming off the disabled list on Friday.
Marquis struggled early, giving up a two-run homer to Miguel Montero with two outs in the first inning. But he found a groove after that, allowing just two hits before giving way to reliever Joe Thatcher with two outs in the seventh.
"Just fighting myself a little bit mechanically (and) emotionally," Marquis said of his early troubles. "Sometimes it's going to happen, but it's how you get through it. I got a little boost of energy and felt something in my delivery toward the end (of the third) when I was facing the eighth and nine hitters. I just rolled with it."
The Padres (34-34), who rolled to a season-high fifth straight win and eighth in the last 10 games, closed to within three games of the first-place Diamondbacks (37-31) in the National League West.
Grandal's long drive, estimated at 442 feet into the upper deck in left in the fourth, was the difference as the Padres beat Arizona starter Wade Miley for the third time this season. Miley (4-6) allowed six runs (one earned) and six hits with four strikeouts and a walk in six innings.
Miley left a 2-2 slider up and Grandal crushed it.
"It felt great. I've been having some good at-bats, squaring some balls up, but obviously the outcome was different," said Grandal, who entered the game batting .178. "It feels good to get the first home run out of the way."
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson blamed his club's offensive woes for the setback. He said the Diamondbacks missed an opportunity to tack on more runs in the first inning.
"We were unable to clean up that inning," Gibson said.
Montero put the Diamondbacks on the board in the first when he drove a 2-1 pitch from Marquis into the seats in right for a two-run homer with two outs.
Cliff Pennington's groundout with two outs in the fourth scored Cody Ross for a 3-0 Arizona lead.
Miley didn't give up a hit until Everth Cabrera led off the fourth with a single to left. Cabrera advanced to third when shortstop Didi Gregorius couldn't handle Chris Denorfia's hard grounder, giving the Padres runners at first and third with no outs. Chase Headley's single to center scored Cabrera and Logan Forsythe's sacrifice fly to center brought home Denorfia to cut the lead to 3-2.
Grandal's home run gave the Padres the lead for good and put them in a position to sweep the series on Sunday.
"We have to make some adjustments or else they are going to do the same thing to us (Sunday)," Gibson said. "We have to make some adjustments. People just keep doing the same things to you and you keep acting like you don't know what's going on is kind of bad. I didn't like our at-bats at all. We should have rebounded better than that."
NOTES: Cabrera went 2-for-3 with a walk and stole his 31st base, tops in the NL. ... Padres LF Carlos Quentin was scratched from the lineup with shoulder discomfort. Quentin hurt his left shoulder on a swing in Friday night's game. ... Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy will make his first start on Sunday since Tuesday's bench-clearing brawl at Dodger Stadium. Kennedy is appealing the 10-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball on Friday. ... Diamondbacks 2B Aaron Hill will make another rehab start for Triple-A Reno on Sunday before an off-day Monday. He also is scheduled to play for Reno on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hill has been on the disabled list since April 15 after suffering a broken left hand.

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