Romero saves the day

Romero saves the day

SAN DIEGO -- Doug Davis nearly had a perfect game through seven innings. When the 3-0 victory over the Padres was all said and done on Tuesday night, he wasn't even the one who received the game ball.

With the D-backs leading 3-0 in the bottom of the eighth, the Padres had the bases loaded with two outs. Davis had just left the game after throwing 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits through 124 pitches.

Davis was lifted for recently acquired setup man Jon Rauch. On the second pitch of Rauch's first batter, Jody Gerut smoked a deep fly ball to right-center field. It looked as if Davis would get a no-decision.

Then, out of nowhere came the outstretched left hand of right fielder Alex Romero, who stuck out his glove while making the catch of the year, saving the game for Davis as well as for his team. Romero ran a good 100 feet to the deepest part of the ballpark with his back turned, eyes not even looking near the ball, which basically just fell into his glove.

"One of the best catches I've ever seen," said center fielder Chris Young. "The best catch that I've seen that wouldn't have been a home run. I have no idea how he caught it. I'm trying to play it off the wall just to back him up and somehow he has his glove out there and the ball goes in it.

"He knew what he was doing and he straight-faced me when he was running in, like he knew what he was doing all the way. It was an amazing catch."

Gerut hit into the deepest part of the ballpark. Manager Bob Melvin said in any other park, including Yellowstone, it would have been a home run.

"I've seen guys jump over the wall and then bring them back, but I think for all things considered, as far as he had to run and the magnitude of the play and the whole bit, it was as good as a play as I've ever seen," said Melvin.

"At the end you saw how much ground he covered. We were playing semi-deep for no balls over your head ... it was just all-around, an unbelievable play."

There may not be enough adjectives to describe the catch, which surely will get some airtime as one of the top plays of the season. Not only was it a brilliant catch, but with a three-run lead and the bases loaded, if the ball drops, the game is tied, with the go-ahead run at least on second base.

"Everybody jumped up like we won the pennant or something," Davis said. "When he hit the ball I thought he had no chance of catching it, let alone the ball even staying in the park."

As for Davis, he retired the first 20 batters he faced, before allowing a two-out single to Brian Giles in the seventh inning to break up his perfect game. In the eighth, he allowed an infield single to Chase Headley, a walk to Khalil Greene and a walk to Josh Bard before Melvin lifted him.

Davis was efficient, and had he not allowed the big hit to Giles, probably could have pitched a full nine innings if he still had a no-hit bid.

"The ball that Giles hit was a mistake," Davis said. "It was supposed to be down and away. It still wasn't a bad pitch, but it was elevated to where he could stay inside of it. He put a good swing on it and hit it up the middle."

It was easily Davis' best outing of the year, as he got back on track after two rough starts out of the All-Star break.

"Phenomenal," Melvin said. "We had our fingers crossed for a while.

"That's as good as we've seen Doug pitch. To be able to get that far along kind of in the fashion that he does it and still keep his pitch count down, a lot of things have to be going right for him and they were."

The D-backs scored all their runs in the sixth inning. After five scoreless innings from starter Chris Young, who was on a 90-pitch count, the Padres turned to reliever Clay Hensley, who allowed a single to Conor Jackson and then another to Tony Clark. Jackson scored on a fielding error by third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. Then two batters later, Romero added to his great day by hitting a two-run single to center field.

Davis said he was conscious of his perfect game all along, but in the end wasn't disappointed at all.

"I was thinking it was a good run," Davis said.

Closer Brandon Lyon picked up his 22nd save after a scoreless ninth.

Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.