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Worst to first

Padres down D'backs to take NL West lead

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Posted: Thursday May 24, 2001 8:05 PM
Updated: Friday May 25, 2001 2:20 AM
  Rookie Wascar Serrano won his second consecutive start for the Padres. AP

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Ryan Klesko doesn't always have to hit home runs for the San Diego Padres to win.

And the Padres don't have to wallow in last place in the NL West just because most fans thought they would.

With Klesko again leading the way, San Diego, the consensus preseason pick to again finish last in the division, beat Arizona 3-1 Thursday to break out of a tie with the Diamondbacks and take sole possession of the NL West lead.

Klesko saw his 10-game hitting streak end, but showed his versatility by walking three times, stealing a career-high three bases and scoring the tying and go-ahead runs.

"Teams that can do all the things -- walks, stealing, all those -- are the teams that are going to win," Klesko said. "You can look at all the power lineups throughout the American League and National League, and not all those guys are winning."

Klesko was quick to point out that he's not the only one contributing.

Padres not interested in trading for Wells
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- David Wells shouldn't count on his hometown team bailing him out of his unhappy situation with the Chicago White Sox.

Struggling Chicago, on course to fall from first to last in the AL Central, is trying to trade the left-hander, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

Wells grew up in San Diego, but Padres general manager Kevin Towers said Thursday he hasn't had any contact with the White Sox.

"I know he's a local guy and stuff, but our starters are our strength," Towers said after the surprising Padres beat Arizona 3-1 to take sole possession of first place in the NL West.

"Right now our pitching is so good that I'd hate to mess up what we have right now," Towers said. "I think all five starters have done a terrific job.

"A month or two from now, who knows, but right now I couldn't break up our rotation the way it is." 
 
 

"Everybody's been a part of this -- the pitching, the bullpen, the offense. Everyone," he said.

But the focus the last few days has been on Klesko, who homered twice both Monday and Tuesday nights at Houston.

"We relied on him so much in Houston that it was unbelievable," catcher Ben Davis said. "I mean, he basically carried us, by himself. We know we can't expect that out of him every day."

But Klesko is patient and bats in front of cleanup hitter Phil Nevin, who's batting .331.

"Ryan knows he doesn't have to swing at everything they throw up there," Davis said.

Rookie Wascar Serrano (2-1) won his second straight start and Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances.

The Padres won their season-high sixth straight and have won eight of nine. They've won 19 of 26 games since bottoming out at 7-14 on April 25.

The Padres went 7-2 on their just-completed trip through New York, Montreal and Houston, during which they jumped from last place into a first-place tie with Arizona.

The Padres hadn't been in first since winning the division in 1998 and reaching the World Series.

"Hopefully we'll be talking about this later on," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's been fun to watch."

Nevin said it's important to keep things in perspective, but he likes the feeling that winning gives the players and the fans.

"It's nice for a lot of people who haven't been in a situation like this to have that kind of feeling," he said. "It's obviously nicer to see San Diego listed higher in the standings than where we've been the last two years."

New Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said the Padres are doing everything they have to do to win.

"They are getting outstanding pitching, their bullpen is solid and they've got some thunder in the middle of their lineup," Brenly said. "They've got some guys who can steal bases and play solid defense. I'm not surprised at all."

Klesko didn't even have to swing the bat to help manufacture the Padres' first two runs as they rallied from an early 1-0 deficit.

He walked leading off the fourth inning, stole second and third and, with two outs, scored when center fielder Steve Finley, who's won the last two NL Gold Glove awards, let Bubba Trammell's routine fly ball kick off his glove for a three-base error.

Klesko also walked leading off the sixth, off reliever Troy Brohawn (1-2) and moved to third on Phil Nevin's infield single and third baseman Greg Colbrunn's ensuing throwing error. Klesko scored the go-ahead run on Ben Davis' single, and Nevin scored on Trammell's double-play ball.

Klesko struck out in the eighth to finish 0-for-1.

Arizona took a quick 1-0 lead when Tony Womack hit a leadoff triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by the No. 2 hitter, Jay Bell.

Serrano dodged a bases-loaded jam with one out in the sixth by striking out two former Padres, Reggie Sanders and Finley. Serrano had allowed consecutive one-out singles by Luis Gonzalez, Greg Colbrunn and Mark Grace. Colbrunn's single ricocheted off Serrano's lower right leg. Trainers checked Serrano and he stayed in the game.

Serrano allowed one run and six hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked three.

Diamondbacks starter Miguel Batista lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing one unearned run on two hits. He struck out three and walked three.

Notes: Klesko has a team-high 13 stolen bases. ... Padres general manager Kevin Towers was still raving about Klesko's batting practice homer Monday night in Houston. "I thought it was leaving the stadium," Towers said of the shot that some have estimated at 500 feet. "I'd go out and pay to watch Klesko take batting practice." ... Padres RH reliever Rodney Myers (1-1, one save, 4.58 ERA) was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder and LH reliever Jimmy Osting was recalled from Class AA Mobile for his second stint with the Padres. Myers was put on the DL retroactive to Sunday.

 
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