Haren wins third straight for D-backs

Haren wins third straight for D-backs

SAN DIEGO -- Bring on the Dodgers.

The D-backs are feeling pretty good about themselves heading into their big four-game series with the Dodgers after they beat the Padres for the second this time by a 7-3 margin in front of 31,755 at PETCO Park.

Arizona has won seven of its past nine games since dropping two of three to the Dodgers two weeks ago at Chase Field.

"Everyone is swinging it well so we really couldn't have picked a better time to go down there," third baseman Mark Reynolds said referring to the series with the Dodgers, who trail the D-backs by one game in the National League West. "Our pitching has been great. Hopefully, we can win the series, get out of there in first place and keep it rolling after that."

It didn't look good for the D-backs early in this one as starter Dan Haren got off to a shaky start.

"I felt really good coming out of the 'pen," Haren said. "You wouldn't be able to tell by the results, but I felt good. My stuff was a little flat in the beginning, left some pitches in the middle of the plate."

The Padres made him pay as Jody Gerut led off the first with a homer to right and Kevin Kouzmanoff capped the inning with a sacrifice fly to give San Diego a 2-0 lead.

It was a very un-Haren-like start to a game. In his prior seven starts, the right-hander had allowed just one total run in the first five innings.

"We're so used to seeing him mow through the first three or four innings," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "But he got better as he went along, made some adjustments."

Haren got his fingers more on top of the ball and threw at more of a downhill plane after the first and allowed just one more run before departing after the seventh inning.

"The second half of the game he was fantastic," Melvin said.

"My split got better as the game went along, got a lot of strikeouts on it," said Haren, who fanned six. "But the beginning of the game I was leaving it over the middle of the plate and it was burning me. The fifth, sixth and seventh it was my best pitch. I was happy I was able to make an adjustment out there."

The D-backs offense chipped away at the Padres' advantage in the second when Reynolds doubled home Chad Tracy.

In the fourth, the D-backs grabbed a 5-3 lead as they capitalized on a pair of Padres errors to score four runs. Haren was right in the middle of the offense that inning with almost disastrous results.

With Alex Romero at third, Haren hit a grounder to third. Kouzmanoff charged the ball and threw wildly home trying to get Romero. Meanwhile, Haren took advantage of the error to advance to second but seemed to pull up lame when he got to the bag.

"I just needed a second," Haren said. "I was just cramping up a little bit. I got some fluids in me, stretched it out and I was fine. I would be surprised if I felt it at all tomorrow."

Melvin didn't want to take any chances given the way his co-ace has pitched this year, and Haren had a hard time convincing Melvin that his right hamstring was good enough to allow him to stay in the game.

"He guaranteed me he would take it easy coming home and once he got out to the mound he would let me know but didn't have any issues with it the rest of the way," Melvin said. "We were in close contact with him the rest of the way almost to the point where he was tired of listening to me."

Haren retired the final eight batters he faced before giving way to Jon Rauch in the eighth and Tony Pena in the ninth.

In the victorious clubhouse, catcher Chris Snyder praised Haren's effort before turning his attention to the upcoming challenges.

"These guys aren't backing down," Snyder said of the Dodgers. "It's not going to be easy. It's going to be fun."

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