Volquez strong as Padres sweep D-backs

Volquez strong as Padres sweep D-backs

Volquez strong as Padres sweep D-backs
PHOENIX -- The Padres' season-high seven-game winning streak can be best described in two words: great play.

And perhaps, no other game during the current run embodied the Padres' play more than Sunday's 5-4 victory against the D-backs to complete the three-game sweep at Chase.

There were a pair of great plays by second baseman Alexi Amarista, another by right fielder Mark Kotstay in the sixth inning and an outstanding stop and throw by shortstop Everth Cabrera in the eighth that could go down as the play of the game and will definitely be remembered as one of the best defensive plays of the year for the Padres.

Also pitching in Sunday was starter Edinson Volquez, who was charged with four hits and struck out seven in seven innings for the victory. Volquez attributed part of his recent success to a healed blister on his right thumb and a mechanical correction in his arm slot.

"We're playing pretty good right now," Volquez said. "Hitting, pitching and defense. It was good to win three games here."

Winning has become a trend in San Diego. The club went 19-40 in the first 59 games of the season but has gone 40-30 since June 9.

"When [seven wins in a row] happens, you are doing everything," Padres manager Bud Black said. "That's what winning streaks are all about. If one of those falters, you more than likely will lose a game or two. But our guys have played well through this streak."

The Padres scored two runs in the first inning on a pair of RBI singles by catcher Yasmani Grandal and first baseman Yonder Alonso for an early 2-0 lead, but that did not last.

D-backs right fielder Justin Upton came home on a single by catcher Miguel Montero for the home team's first run in the bottom half of the first. Center fielder Chris Young then drove home Paul Goldschmidt with single to left field to tie the game at 2.

"It was a tough inning in the first inning. I threw about 25 pitches but after that, everything was good," Volquez said. "Sometimes, it takes some pitches to get your arm loose and get the ball where you want." In his own words, Volquez "settled down."

The right-hander did not allow another hit until the sixth inning, when Upton led off the frame with a single up the middle. Volquez walked the next hitter, Goldschmidt, for the second time in the game, but would escape the inning unscathed.

Montero lined out to Kotsay in right field and Upton, who was running on the pitch, was doubled off second base to complete the double play. Young grounded out to third baseman Chase Headley for the final out to end the scoring threat and just like that, Volquez was out of the jam.

The game was not without its share of tense moments.

Brad Brach relieved Volquez in the eighth and allowed a two-run homer to Aaron Hill to cut the Padres' lead to 5-4. But Cabrera robbed the next hitter, Upton, of a base hit with a stellar play deep in the hole for the first out to set the tone for the rest of the inning.

"If he doesn't make that play, then they have a man on first and they have action with the middle of the order coming up," Black said. "The whole world changes if that ball goes through. That's a huge play, a momentum-changer."

Goldschmidt struck out for the second out of the inning and reliever Luke Gregerson eventually struck out Chris Johnson with runners on second and third for the final out.

Gregerson would go on to earn his first save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.

"It was a tremendous play for us," Cabrera said. "I got a good jump on the ball and I knew I was going to have to throw it to first fast. I made an adjustment. I calculated it. If my arm goes up a little higher on the throw, I don't get him out."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.