SAN DIEGO - After struggling at the start of the season, Edinson Volquez has turned it around in his last three starts.
Hard work and working on his mechanics recently with pitching coach Darren Balsley has worked wonders, Volquez said. But he added that keeping it simple also helps deliver positive results.
"Just throwing strikes and staying consistent," Volquez said. "That's what I try to do on every pitch."
With Jedd Gyorko and Will Venable generating much of the offense with back-to-back home runs, Volquez produced another strong outing as the San Diego Padres earned a 5-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks before an announced crowd of 29,101 at Petco Park on Sunday.
Gyorko and Venable hit consecutive homers with two outs in the sixth and allowed San Diego to break up a one-run game. Gyorko hammered a 3-2 pitch into the upper deck in left for a two-run blast estimated at 426 feet before Venable followed with a solo shot that barely reached the seats in right.
"Jedd is a very instinctive player," Padre manager Bud Black said of Gyorko, the Padres' rookie second baseman, who is hitting .340 with two home runs and six doubles over his last 13 games. "He's a competitive guy. And he figures things out. I think the learning curve for Jedd will be quicker than some because I think his mind works the right way when it comes to competition. We're seeing him grow every day in areas that some guys take a little longer. He's a very good natural hitter."
For Volquez (3-3), it was his third consecutive victory. Volquez held the Diamondbacks (16-15) to a run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings with three walks and three strikeouts on 94 pitches.
After opening the season 0-3 with an 11.68 ERA, Volquez has gone 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his last four starts.
"The last three starts (have been) much more strike heavy with the secondary pitches, (and) the fastball command improved also," Black said. "You put it all together (and) it's three wins."
That wasn't the case for Arizona starter Ian Kennedy. Kennedy had dominated the Padres in their own ballpark in four career starts, but suffered his first loss here on Sunday.
Kennedy, who entered the game with a 3-0 mark and a 1.13 ERA at Petco, gave up two runs on three hits in the first inning, but kept the Padres quiet until Gyorko's mammouth homer. Venable then chased him with his homer. Kennedy (1-3) gave up five runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He threw 111 pitches.
"I just felt like I couldn't put anyone away," Kennedy said. "There were times when I had two strikes on guys and I didn't have that put-away pitch, whether it was my fastball or my change-up. In those situations, where I could strike somebody out, I didn't do that. It's pretty frustrating."
The Padres (13-18), who took two of three in the series, scored twice in the first inning. Chase Headley, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games, singled home Everth Cabrera for a run, and Yonder Alonso drove in Chris Denorfia with a sacrifice fly to left for a 2-0 lead.
Didi Gregorius, who hadn't played since being hit in the head with a pitch by Josh Outman of the Rockies on April 26, led off the third by driving a 2-1 pitch by Volquez into the right-field bleachers to cut the lead to 2-1. Gregorius went 2-for-3 and is batting .433. He has three home runs and three RBIs on the season.
But Gregorius was practically all Arizona had offensively Sunday.
"We didn't have anything going at all," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "We didn't make any adjustments to what (Volquez) was doing. He was trying to start off with off-speed pitches and we were out in front. We didn't have a good approach. It showed because we only had four hits."
NOTES: San Diego has won 11 of its last 15 contests against Arizona. ... The Padres activated right-handed pitcher Tyson Ross from the 15-day disabled list and placed left-handed starter Clayton Richard, who got shelled Saturday night by the Diamondbacks, on the DL with an intestinal virus. Ross will pitch out of the bullpen. ... By scoring a run, the Diamondbacks extended their run as the only Major League Baseball club that hasn't been shut out. ... The Padres continue their homestand with a three-game set against the Miami Marlins, beginning Monday. The Diamondbacks head north to Los Angeles, where they will play the Dodgers for three games starting Monday.