PHOENIX (AP) - The San Diego Padres were on nice little roll heading into the desert, were hoping to build a little momentum toward the end of the season.
They never got the chance, thanks to some uncharacteristically bad defense.
One of baseball's best defensive teams the second half of the season, the Padres had three errors in the first two innings, leading to all of Arizona's runs in a 5-0 loss to the Diamondbacks on Friday night.
``I don't know if I ever have seen and inning go like that first inning,' LeBlanc said.
San Diego had won five of six before arriving in Arizona and had just 14 errors since the All-Star break, third-least in the majors.
Whether it was the heat - 108 outside at first pitch - or Arizona's early aggressiveness, the Padres seemed out of sorts the first two innings, getting two errors from catcher Nick Hundley and a couple of other unseemly plays.
The Diamondbacks took advantage, scoring all of their runs off San Diego starter Wade LeBlanc (2-3) in those first two innings. The Padres never fully recovered, holding Arizona without a run the rest of the way, but went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
``The difference today was they bunched their hits in the first inning and got their runs,' Padres manager Bud Black said. ``We spread them outs and couldn't get the key hits. If we get a ball in the gap a couple of times during this game, it is a different ballgame.'
Arizona starter Josh Collmenter (8-8) had his fourth straight solid outing, allowing six singles in 5 1-3 innings, and combined with four relievers for Arizona's second shutout during a four-game winning streak that keeps the Diamondbacks three games ahead of San Francisco in the division.
``We came out very aggressive, we stole four bags on them, and kind of forced some action,' Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. ``We'll take it like that when it's available. We'll take runs any way we can get them.'
Arizona had surged to the top of the NL West, only to slide back with a six-game losing streak.
In danger of spiraling downward, the Diamondbacks recovered to make it a respectable road trip, closing it out with three straight wins over Washington for their first division lead this late in the season for the first time since 2008.
Heading home for a crucial six-game homestand against NL West opponents, the Diamondbacks hoped to keep it going behind Collmenter.
The over-the-the-top-throwing rookie did his part, retiring the first eight batters he faced while allowing less than two runs for the fourth straight start.
The Diamondbacks - with plenty of help from San Diego - made sure Collmenter didn't have to work too hard, scoring four runs in the first.
Arizona had five hits in the opening inning and Padres catcher Nick Hundley sent two runs across the plate with throwing errors - the first coming as he threw the ball into the ground trying to avoid Ryan Roberts' swinging bat on Willie Bloomquist's attempted steal of third.
Right fielder Will Venable also had a not-so-graceful belly flop attempting to catch Paul Goldschmidt's pop-up down the line and left fielder Kyle Blanks went down awkwardly on Aaron Hill's double, adding to the ugliness.
It continued in the second inning, when first baseman Jesus Guzman dropped a throw by Logan Forsythe to allow another run, making it 5-0.
``Anytime you can get a few runs before you go out for the second is huge,' Collmenter said. ``A lot of times, one run can make the difference, help your confidence.'
Those early problems helped wear out LeBlanc, who threw 91 pitches in four innings while allowing five runs - four, somehow, were earned - on seven hits. In his fifth stint with the Padres this season, LeBlanc hadn't allowed more than three runs in seven previous starts.
``Obviously, it put us in a big hole,' LeBlanc said of the first two innings. ``There wasn't a whole lot hit hard in that first inning, but they put them where they needed to put them.'
NOTES: Bloomquist led off the game with a double to break an 0-for-12 streak. ... Andy Parrino, called up by the Padres before the game, flew out to center as a pinch hitter in his first career at-bat in the seventh inning. ... San Diego right-hander Aaron Harang (12-3), Saturday's starter, is 6-0 in nine road starts this season despite a 4.65 ERA away from Petco Park. ... Arizona left-hander Joe Saunders (8-11), who will pitch against Harang, has lost his last three decisions and has a 7.00 ERA over his last three starts. ... Arizona has won nine of 12 at home against San Diego.
The Associated Press News Service
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