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D-backs blanked despite Benson's effort

D-backs blanked despite Benson's effort

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SAN DIEGO -- Just a few days ago, it looked like the D-backs' swing through Southern California was going to be a good one.

Thursday, they were one out away from taking two of three from the Dodgers before heading to San Diego. They lost that game, though, and have not tasted victory since.

Saturday night at PETCO Park, the D-backs dropped their third in a row, this one by a 5-0 margin to the Padres.

The lack of offense marred what was a solid performance from starter Kris Benson, who had his contract selected from Triple-A prior to the game. The right-hander made just eight Major League appearances for the Rangers last year following surgery in 2007 on his shoulder and elbow.

Benson wound up allowing two runs on six hits over six innings.

"He threw the ball well," said D-backs catcher Chris Snyder. "He had good command of all of his pitches and had a good game plan. Very impressive for what he's been through."

What was not impressive was the Arizona offense, which managed just four hits.

San Diego starter Kevin Correia fanned eight and allowed three hits before being removed with two outs in the sixth.

"He was pretty tough tonight," said D-backs manager A.J. Hinch. "He was cutting the ball quite a bit. He was throwing us a variety of cutters, sliders, just smaller breaking balls, and he mixed in a curveball later in the game. He threw enough inside that made us a little tentative. I just felt like we looked a little lethargic on offense and didn't pose a ton of threats to him. We did work him. He was tired at the end and was missing up, but we didn't offer much early in the game."

That was when the Padres were putting pressure on Benson, loading the bases against him in the first and second innings.

The wily veteran, though, was able to limit the damage in both frames, allowing just one first-inning run.

"Benson did his job," Hinch said. "He did a really good job of pitching out of trouble and minimizing the damage when he could. He gave us every opportunity to get our offense kick-started, and we didn't do it. I thought he had a good slider. He did what we expected and that was keep us in the game."

The Padres finally broke the game open against the Arizona bullpen in the seventh, when Jordan Norberto walked in a run and Bob Howry let two more come in on a bloop single to give San Diego a 5-0 lead.

A win Sunday would send the D-backs home with a 2-4 record on the road trip. Not what they were hoping for just a few days ago, but the best they can get right now.

"When stuff like this happens, you hope there's two or three guys in the order who are kind of evening it out and holding their own still," Snyder said, referring to the offensive slump. "Right now, it kind of seems like everybody has hit the skids. It's just one of those things. We'll be out of it soon."

As for Benson, the club doesn't have to have a fifth starter next time through the rotation, thanks to an off-day on Thursday, but he performed well enough for another chance. After the game, he made a compelling case for why it would make sense to keep him in the rotation.

"I don't feel like I'm 100 percent back yet, but I feel pretty good where I'm at right now," Benson said. "I think I have a couple more mph in my shoulder. I just have to get into a routine and get out there every five days and be in one spot, and just get into a routine. That's what it all boils down to."

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

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