PHOENIX (AP) - Aaron Harang had pretty good stuff, probably enough to stretch his unbeaten streak on the road.
One pitch and one bad pickoff attempt spoiled it for San Diego's big right-hander.
Harang lost for the first time in 10 road starts after giving up a two-run homer to Chris Young and another run on his throwing error in the Padres' 3-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night.
``When you look back at any game, I think a pitcher will tell you that there is one or two critical pitches,' Padres manager Bud Black said after his team's third straight loss. ``The way both guys were throwing, it came down to that fastball that Young hit.'
Harang (12-4) came into the game 6-0 in his previous nine road starts and was sharp early, getting the Diamondbacks to wave at his tight slider.
He made his first mistake in the fourth inning, when Young lifted a no-doubt, two-run homer to left. Harang compounded it with an error while trying to pick off Young in the sixth, throwing the ball into the dirt to allow Paul Goldschmidt to score from third.
``I was just trying to play something close by him, because I know CY gets a little antsy over there, you know he will sometimes jump the gun,' said Harang, who allowed three runs - two earned - and seven hits with eight strikeouts in six innings. ``Probably with that count, I shouldn't have been doing too good a move. I should have just flipped it over there, just to show him I was thinking about it and gone after the hitter.'
Harang's mistakes allowed Arizona to keep up its momentum.
Shaking off a six-game losing streak that threatened to derail the season, Arizona won three straight over Washington and opened a six-game homestand with a win over the Padres on Friday night.
The Diamondbacks kept up the momentum in front of a loud crowd of 35,603 behind Joe Saunders (9-11), who ended a three-game losing streak, Young's 19th homer and J.J. Putz's 33rd save.
The combination helped Arizona maintain its lead over San Francisco in the NL West at 74-59 - 23 wins better than last season.
``It's nice,' Saunders said. ``Right now it's about being consistent. I know it sounds boring, but if we do the little things and throw up zeros, that's our game.'
Saunders retired the first seven batters he faced and had the Padres beating balls into the turf, getting 13 groundouts. He got some defensive help from shortstop Willie Bloomquist, who made a diving stop on Logan Forsythe to open the game and a nice play on Kyle Blanks' handcuffing one-hopper in the fourth.
Saunders found a little trouble in the seventh inning, partially caused by right fielder Justin Upton's drop of a routine fly ball with no outs. San Diego had four runners on in the inning, but got just one run - on Will Venable's punch single through the hole on the left side that made it 3-1.
Saunders ended the threat with a fly out and was done after that, allowing an unearned run and four hits.
``He was working ahead in the count, making pitches when he needed to and that's all you can ask,' said Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero, who had two hits and picked off Alberto Gonzalez at first in the fourth inning. ``He's been working hard and it's been fun to catch him.'
David Hernandez, Arizona's primary setup man, left the game in the eighth inning, when a line drive by Gonzalez struck him on the right ankle. He tried to chase down the ball, which had caromed toward the first-base line, but gave up quickly and later limped off the field.
Thankfully for the Diamondbacks, who lost starter Jason Marquis to a similar injury earlier in the season, Hernandez only suffered a bruise.
Brad Ziegler finished the inning and Putz closed out the ninth, keeping the Diamondbacks perfect (17-for-17) on saves since the All-Star break.
Notes: Padres CF Cameron Maybin was scratched from the lineup with right wrist irritation. He's listed as day-to-day. ... San Diego is 37-79 all-time at Chase Field, its second-worst record behind the .286 winning percentage (6-15) at Busch Stadium. ... Arizona RHP Ian Kennedy will be seeking his NL-best 17th win on Sunday. His .800 winning percentage is the best in baseball and he's won eight of his past nine starts. ... San Diego LHP Cory Luebke, who will start in the series finale on Sunday, has been solid since joining the rotation, with a 3.28 ERA in eight second-half starts. He has a 2.12 ERA on the road this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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