Padres wrap up NL West title

Padres wrap up NL West title

PHOENIX -- A wild and crazy regular season ended fittingly -- as irregularly as conceivable.

With a sellout crowd at Chase Field wondering what had just happened, the Padres gathered in the infield to celebrate a 7-6 victory over the Diamondbacks on Sunday and back-to-back National League West titles for the first time in franchise history.

That this title was shared with the Dodgers, both clubs finishing 88-74, did nothing to diminish the satisfaction. San Diego, by virtue of a 13-5 season thrashing of Los Angeles, opens the NLDS at home against St. Louis on Tuesday afternoon, while the Wild-Card Dodgers shuffle off to New York to face the Mets starting Wednesday.

"That's what's great about baseball -- you never know when you're going to see something you've never seen before," Trevor Hoffman said, having nailed down one of his more improbable saves on a controversial call at second base.

With many of the 48,946 in attendance howling like a desert wind as Arizona manager Bob Melvin was pleading his case, second-base umpire Larry Poncino reversed a call, having initially ruled runner Chris Young safe at second.

Shortstop Khalil Greene had taken a throw from first baseman Adrian Gonzalez after a spectacular diving stab by second baseman Josh Barfield on Alberto Callaspo's grounder headed toward right field. Gonzalez alertly threw to Greene, ball and runner landing at roughly the same time.

"I went out and told [Poncino] it was a force play," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "And he realized, yeah, it was a force. I give him credit for that.

"What can I say? It's our way. We don't do anything easy. But Trevor found a way to get it done."

Successive homers by Chad Tracy (his second of the day) and Conor Jackson earlier in the ninth made this a one-run game, the Padres thanking their lucky stars Brian Giles had climbed the fence in right to take a homer away from Carlos Quentin in the seventh.

"I'm in the mode of getting the next guy [Stephen Drew] when they call him out," Hoffman said. "Melvin's coming out saying, 'Cool your jets,' then it's time to somewhat celebrate. It took some of the edge off it."

After an exhilarating celebration on Saturday, complete with champagne sprayed across the clubhouse, this one was relatively mild. Relief was the order of the day.

"The bottom line is it was fantastic to get my team to the postseason as a division winner," said Hoffman, who arrived after fellow relievers Alan Embree and Scott Linebrink had helped preserve the win for starter Woody Williams (12-5).

"I think we're prepared for anything," Williams said. "Now we have to go out and win."

Williams went 6 2/3 innings to outduel Cy Young Award candidate Brandon Webb (16-8), delivering two of the club's 14 hits, including a two-out RBI single keeping alive a six-run fourth inning.

Before alertly making the play of his young career with the strike to Greene, Gonzalez wrapped up a great season with a flourish -- a double and three singles, scoring twice and driving in two runs, to finish at .304.

Pushed to their limits by the Dodgers and Phillies, the Padres had the league's best record in September -- 19-9, for a .679 winning percentage.

In the past week, winning five of seven in St. Louis and Arizona, San Diego knocked out a pair of Cy Young candidates, Chris Carpenter and Webb, enhancing the candidacy of their main man, Hoffman.

"And we're 1-0 in October," said a beaming Barfield, whose anticipation allowed him to reach Callaspo's sharp grounder from the grass in shallow right, his throw carrying Gonzalez off the bag.

Noting that Young had fallen down trying to get away from the ball, Gonzalez quickly wheeled and fired to Greene, who snapped up the throw and applied a tag.

"It's a low throw, he's sliding in ... an awkward play," said Greene, playing only his second game since Aug. 17 after tearing a ligament in his left middle finger. "I don't even know what the ultimate call was, but I thought he was out.

"One way or another, it's a strange way to end a game."

To say nothing of a season, with the Dodgers looking on from San Francisco in what had to be disbelief.

"He [Young] slid right into the tag," said Barfield, who had a clear view. "He was out. Adrian made a great play, and Khalil was there.

"I knew Trevor was throwing a changeup, so I was moving that way a little with the pitch. I think that helped me get to the ball. Callaspo can run; he was really getting down there, so I had to rush my throw."

Gonzalez's single and an RBI double to right by Mike Piazza in the first delivered a quick lead for Williams, who retired the first nine hitters he faced. The Padres jumped on Webb in the fourth, producing all six runs with two outs after Gonzalez and Piazza once again had started the uprising with a single and double.

Geoff Blum's single scored the first run of the fourth, and after a Barfield single put runners at the corners, Williams helped his cause with his hit to center. Walks to Dave Roberts and Giles forced home a run, and Gonzalez's double delivered two more before Webb fanned Piazza to strike out the side.

The Diamondbacks got on the board in the fourth when Craig Counsell -- playing his final game for Arizona -- slammed a solo homer to right. The D-Backs pieced together a run in the fifth, and Tracy bombed a two-run homer in the seventh before Giles climbed the wall to take a homer away from Quentin.

"It's been like this for a month," Giles said, sighing. "Philly and L.A. played great baseball. We had to keep winning -- and we did."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.