Worst to first
Padres down D'backs to take NL West lead
Updated: Friday May 25, 2001 2:20 AM
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.
"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.
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.
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.