PHOENIX (AP)After 3 1/2 long months, Luke Weaver was very glad to be back on the mound. And even on the base paths.
”I was battling a little of that nervous energy this morning,” the Arizona right-hander said after he pitched six innings in the Diamondbacks’ 8-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. ”It took some time to settle into the routine.
”But once you throw that first pitch, it comes back. You’re ready to compete.”
Arizona, which was held hitless for seven innings by Blake Snell on Tuesday, busted out with 13 hits Wednesday to snap a five-game losing streak, prevent a series sweep and keep the Padres from gaining ground in the NL wild-card race. Ketel Marte and Pavin Smith had three hits apiece and Josh VanMeter homered to back Weaver, who gave up four hits, walking none and striking out three in a 79-pitch outing.
That didn’t exceed Arizona manager Torey Lovullo’s pitch count for the game.
”We gotta be very careful, but he was extremely strong today,” Lovullo said. ”I’ve never seen him anything less than ready.”
”Today wasn’t a big strikeout day, but I did a good job of commanding to those spots,” Weaver said of his strategy. ”Mix pitches around the plate and try to feed into their aggressiveness to get weaker contact and quicker outs.”
”He did a good job of managing our lineup,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. ”We just couldn’t get anything going.”
The Padres are tied with Cincinnati for the second NL wild card pending the outcome of the Reds’ second game of a doubleheader against St. Louis – which after winning the first game 5-4 was 1 1/2 games behind the leaders.
Weaver (3-3), making his first start since May 16 after being sidelined with shoulder inflammation, did a little bit of everything in his return. He gave up a single to the first batter, Trent Grisham, then promptly picked him off first base. By the time the Padres had their next baserunner in the fourth, Arizona was ahead 6-0 and Weaver was fresh from going first to third on a single that he capped with a head-first slide.
Weaver reached on Manny Machado’s error, and was the last batter his opponent, Yu Darvish, faced in the game. The Diamondbacks chased the right-hander with a six-run third inning that included an RBI double by Smith, VanMeter’s third home run of the season, rookie Jake McCarthy’s first career stolen base and RBI hits from Nick Ahmed and Josh Rojas.
Darvish (7-9) was making his second start since leaving his Aug. 12 start at Chase Field with lower back tightness. That outing also only lasted 2 2/3 innings.
This time, he gave up eight hits and six runs, five earned. He walked one and struck out three. Darvish said he felt fine physically after Wednesday’s game.
”Some of the execution of the pitches like the two-seamer, sliders, that was the problem in the third inning,” he said through an interpreter.
”The last two months, I haven’t been able to perform the way I really want to. You just have to get down to it, work on it and your stuff back on track.”
Grisham’s 14th homer in the sixth ended Weaver’s shutout bid. Wil Myers’ 16th homer, a two-run shot off Noe Ramirez in the seventh, cut Arizona’s lead to 6-3. But the Diamondbacks got those runs back in the eighth against Austin Adams, who hit Smith and Peralta on successive pitches and then walked VanMeter on four pitches to force in a run. The other run scored on a double play.
BACK TO THE PEN
Lovullo said before the game that Taylor Widener will move to the bullpen for the rest of the season to make room for Weaver in the rotation.
”We’ve got a great evaluation as a starter,” Lovullo said. ”We want to manage his workload a little bit. We’re going to put him there for the remainder of the season and we’re going to evaluate him as a reliever.”
Widener had a 4.28 ERA in 13 starts this season.
With rosters expanding to 28 players at the beginning of September, the Padres activated RHP Dinelson Lamet, who made his first appearance since June 26. Lamet, who was sidelined with right forearm inflammation, worked the fifth inning for his third relief outing of the season. He struck out two with his fastball reaching 97 mph.
”One of the highlights today,” Tingler said of Lamet. ”Great to see, a good one to build on.”
San Diego also activated RHP Taylor Williams from the IL and Arizona called up OF Stuart Fairchild from Triple-A Reno.
Darvish’s start was his fifth this season against the Diamondbacks. He fell to 0-2 with a 6.65 ERA against the last-place team in the NL West.
DOING THE HONORS
Giselle Juarez, a left-handed pitcher who led Oklahoma to the Women’s College World Series title, threw out the first pitch. Juarez is from nearby Glendale.
Padres: Host Houston on Friday night. Tingler said after the game that Jake Arrieta (5-12, 7.13 ERA) would likely come off the IL to start.
Diamondbacks: LHP Madison Bumgarner (7-9, 4.37) starts Friday against visiting Seattle.
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