Five-run fifth lifts D-backs to win vs. Padres

Five-run fifth lifts D-backs to win vs. Padres

PHOENIX -- After beating the Padres, 7-4, on Tuesday night, the D-backs have won five of their past six games.

Interim manager Kirk Gibson is obviously happy about the team's improved play, but he doesn't want anyone to get carried away.

"We certainly can't let our guard down and say we're there, because we're far from it," Gibson said.

For the second straight night, the D-backs' starting pitcher gave the Padres some first-inning runs only to watch the Arizona offense get them back in quick fashion.

Right-hander Ian Kennedy one-hit the Padres for seven innings last week at PETCO Park, and knowing how aggressive he was in throwing strikes, San Diego had a pretty good game plan against him going in.

"They were aggressive early and had some hard hit balls," Kennedy said.

An RBI double by Adrian Gonzalez and a run-scoring single by Ryan Ludwick in the first inning gave San Diego a 2-0 lead.

Mark Reynolds erased the deficit in the second when he smacked a two-run homer to right off Kevin Correia.

It was the third homer in two games for Reynolds, with two of them going to the opposite field.

"He's had some success against me in the past throwing fastball and cutters away," Reynolds said of Correia. "So I was looking out there the whole at-bat and he got 2-2 and threw a fastball and it kind of came back over the middle a little bit and I was able to stay inside it and hit it out."

After the first inning, Kennedy adjusted to the way the Padres were approaching him and started throwing his curve and change earlier in the count -- pitching backwards in baseball parlance.

The new approach helped Kennedy (9-9) allow just one more run before departing after the seventh inning.

"He started keeping the ball a little lower and we started pitching a little backwards because they were jumping early at his fastball," catcher Miguel Montero said. "So we tried to slow him down a little bit and finish it hard. That's what we did and he worked out of it good."

The game turned in the fifth when the D-backs sent 10 men to the plate, chasing Correia while scoring five runs to take a 7-3 lead.

Chris Young started the scoring in the inning with an RBI single. Padres manager Bud Black then played the percentages and brought in lefty Joe Thatcher in to face Montero.

"I was trying to stay middle away," Montero said. "I knew it was going to be a slider or fastball away and I made the adjustment."

Montero's drive to left bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double that scored two runs. Black then ordered an intentional walk to Reynolds to set up another left-on-left matchup between Thatcher and Gerardo Parra.

Parra foiled the strategy as he grounded a single back up the middle that scored another two runs to cap the inning.

"I think it gives left-handers confidence the more they see it and those guys did a great job tonight," Gibson said of Montero and Parra. "Thatcher is no easy battle, trust me."

Suddenly, the D-backs are no pushovers either. They finished the month at 16-13, their first winning month since last August when they were 15-14 and it was the first time they finished a month at least three games over .500 since going 14-11 in July of 2008.

"I think what it shows is more character," Gibson said of the way his team has performed of late. "We've seemed to stop a lot of the big innings through our pitching and making plays and not making mistakes. And we're getting better at creating big innings on our own. If you put pressure on people, it's difficult to play with pressure against you. We've done more of that recently and we've been able to force our opponent's hand."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.