Pollock homers in 9th, D-backs top Padres 7-5
PHOENIX (AP) — Add a dramatic ninth-inning moment to what’s looking more and more like a breakout season for A.J. Pollock.
The young center fielder, in his second full big league season, hit a two-out, two-run homer on the first pitch he saw in the ninth to give the Arizona Diamondbacks a 7-5 victory over the San Diego Padres on Monday night.
“We were standing there and we were saying ’Let’s walk them off, let’s walk them off,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said, “and he crushed the ball.”
It was the first game-ending homer of Pollock’s career.
“A really cool feeling,” Pollock said. “That’s what you do. You come in here every day and put a lot of swings in the cages and you work hard and it’s really cool when you actually get up there when the team needs you in late innings and be able to win a game.”
Pollock, hitless in his first 13 at-bats this season, went 3 for 5 to bring his season average to .296. In his last 26 games, Pollock is batting .341 (31 for 91) with five doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs.
“He’s just super-talented,” teammate Cody Ross said. “He’s got all the tools to be a great player and you can see that he’s getting comfortable.”
With their fifth loss in seven games, the Padres are just 2½ games ahead of last-place Arizona in the NL West.
Cliff Pennington was hit by a pitch and pinch-hitter Eric Chavez hit into a fielder’s choice ahead of Pollock’s soaring homer to center off Kevin Quackenbush (0-1).
Pollock said the pitch “was probably a little out of the zone, but I just wanted to be aggressive.”
Yonder Alonso homered and Everth Cabrera launched a three-run shot off Arizona starter Brandon McCarthy in the fifth inning to give San Diego a 4-2 lead.
Martin Prado doubled in a run and singled for the Diamondbacks, just back from a 2-4 road trip and opening a seven-game home stand.
Brad Ziegler (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings to get the win.
“Great game, no doubt about that,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “High intensity on both ends. We got back in the game after two nothing with a big inning. They bounced back, we bounced back with a home run. ... They got the last at-bat and put a good swing on a high fastball. ”
The Diamondbacks went up 2-0 in the second when Prado singled softly up the middle and Ross reached on a bloop hit to short right. With two outs, Pennington singled off third baseman Chase Headley’s glove to bring in one run, and another scored when center fielder Alexi Amarista didn’t pick up the ball cleanly.
McCarthy blanked the Padres through four, but just after the Chase Field roof opened Alonso hit the first pitch of the fifth inning into the swimming pool area in right. After two outs, Amarista and Tyson Ross singled, and Cabrera homered just inside the right field foul pole.
Ross, San Diego’s starter, couldn’t hold the lead, facing five batters without an out in Arizona’s three-run sixth. Pollock singled, then Gerardo Parra reached on a bunt. Paul Goldschmidt singled in a run, Miguel Montero singled home another and Prado barely missed a home run with a double into the cranny next to the Arizona bullpen, putting the Diamondbacks ahead 5-4 and ending Ross’ night.
The lead didn’t last long. McCarthy retired the first two in the seventh but was yanked after pinch-hitter Tommy Medica doubled. Lefty Joe Thatcher came on and allowed an RBI double to Cabrera and it was 5-5.
Each manager challenged a call and both were rejected. Black challenged a call in the fourth when Seth Smith tried to stretch a double to a triple and was called out on an extremely close play.
Gibson challenged a safe call on an attempted pickoff of Headley in the eighth.
With two outs in the eighth Jedd Gyorko singled and was easily thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.
NOTES: The Diamondbacks said day-of-game ticket sales totaled 5,563, the largest at Chase since August 2008. ... In the second game of the series Tuesday, San Diego sends Eric Stults (2-5, 4.97 ERA) to the mound, while Arizona goes with Wade Miley (3-5, 4.85). ... McCarthy leads the Diamondbacks in homers allowed (11). ... The Padres opened a six-game road trip with their first game at Arizona.