Rangers make Padilla's gem stand up

Rangers make Padilla's gem stand up

PHOENIX -- Vicente Padilla loves pitching in Arizona. The Rangers loved the way he pitched on Wednesday night in breaking their five-game losing streak.

Padilla had to be at his best against a guy who leads the National League in ERA, and he was exactly that in pitching the Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field.

Padilla, who was signed by the D-backs as an undrafted free agent in 1998 and never lost his fondness for pitching in the desert, went seven innings and allowed one run on six hits and two walks while striking out three. He is now 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in his last four starts and 6-3 with a 4.48 ERA this season.

"That's exactly what we needed," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "When you have a team that's slipping a little, you need one of your top pitchers to go out and do what he did tonight. If we get that one through five in our rotation, we'll be in great shape."

Padilla, who has won two of his last three starts at Chase Field, beat ace Dan Haren and kept his team in a tie for first place with the Angels in the American League West.

"When your team has five straight losses, it's good getting a win like this," Padilla said.

"He certainly had a challenge on his hands, and he was up for the challenge," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Every time he has been going out there, he has been getting better. We needed him to match up tonight, and he did."

Taylor Teagarden gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the second with a one-out double. The Rangers added one more in the third when Ian Kinsler led off with a single, stole second and scored on a single by David Murphy.

That was it. Byrd had a single later in the third, and that was the Rangers' last hit. Their only two baserunners in the final 6 2/3 innings were on an error and a walk. They have scored two or fewer runs in their last four games.

But on Wednesday night, their pitching covered up all their offensive problems, and the Rangers are now 2-14 this season when scoring two or less runs in a game.

"Contrary to popular belief, the sky wasn't falling," third baseman Michael Young said. "We're a confident group. There are stretches when we aren't playing well, but the biggest thing is how you come out of it. We feel we can play well on any night. It was a nice win, we just have to continue to play well."

Padilla allowed a baserunner in six of seven innings, but the Rangers turned two double plays behind him and the D-backs were 1-for-8 on the night with runners in scoring position.

"We could just never get the big hit at the right time," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "We did get runners on base, and we were in a position to score runs but we just didn't hit them in. Give credit to [Padilla] for competing at that time and getting a lot of off-barrel contact at the right time. It's unfortunate for us."

Padilla won because he was throwing his fastball in the right location. That's been the secret of his success over the past four starts. When he does that, he can turn in performances like this.

"My fastball really seems to fly here," Padilla said.

"He throws a lot of fastballs early, which is his game plan, but it's a catch-22," Hinch said. "If you are patient, you fall behind. He showed that he was going to throw strikes. Our plan was to get a good pitch to hit. ... We just didn't do any damage."

Frank Francisco took over in the eighth and gave up a leadoff double to Stephen Drew but left him stranded by getting Justin Upton on a foul popup, striking out Mark Reynolds and getting Gerardo Parra on a fly to left.

C.J. Wilson then retired the side in order in the ninth for his seventh save. Washington is still undecided when Francisco might return to his closer's role. This was just his second outing since coming off the disabled list on Saturday.

But one thing that Washington does like: seven strong innings from his starter, and then Wilson and Francisco finishing up -- no matter in what order.

"That's solid," Washington said, and the Rangers needed solid on Wednesday night.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.