for this game

Wells pitches Padres into playoffs

Sep 30, 2006 - 11:15 PM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- One of the best big-game pitchers of all time again came up huge, putting the San Diego Padres back into the postseason.

David Wells did not allow a baserunner to reach second base over six spectacular innings and Mike Cameron homered as the Padres wrapped up their second consecutive postseason berth with a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Trevor Hoffman concluded a record-setting season with his 481st career save for San Diego (87-74), which clinched at least a wild card berth and is tied with Los Angeles for the National League West lead.

"We will celebrate this but not go overboard," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "We know we are in a situation tomorrow that whoever (Padres or Dodgers) wins gets the division, but it is a great day. There was so much pressure; this is a huge game he (Wells) showed what he is all about."

Actually, if the teams end the season in a tie, the Padres will win the title based on winning the season series over the Dodgers. Therefore all San Diego needs Sunday is a win or a Los Angeles loss to San Francisco to earn home-field advantage in the postseason.

Wells (1-2) is the sixth winningest postseason pitcher, going 10-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 26 outings, and the hefty 43-year-old guaranteed himself a chance to add to his reputation with his best start of the campaign.

"Going out there knowing what was on the line, that is something I love to do, taking the ball and being right in the middle of things," Wells said. "I have been here plenty of times, I have failed and I have succeeded. I still had huge butterflies going out there today and it was even more emotional knowing that it was my last regular-season start of my career."

After missing his last start because of gout, Wells yielded just four singles and a walk in recording his 230th career win - sixth most among active pitchers.

"Wells throws a ton of strikes and gets quick outs," Arizona infielder Craig Counsell said. "They earned it two years in a row. Both seasons we have come in and said the division is up for grabs and they have grabbed it both years. They have earned it two years."

Wells worked around a leadoff single by Orlando Hudson in the fourth and a leadoff walk by Craig Counsell in the sixth before securing his first win in five starts for San Diego this season. He was acquired from Boston on August 31 for minor league catcher George Kottaras.

After Wells departed, Cla Meredith yielded Stephen Drew's fifth homer in the seventh inning before Scott Linebrink worked a perfect eighth and Hoffman worked around a leadoff single to Luis Gonzalez to record his 45th save this season.

The Padres started a celebration at the pitchers' mound after Conor Jackson grounded out to shortstop Khalil Greene to end the game. San Diego started the season 8-15, was in first place from June 27-August 9 but entered September four games back of Los Angeles. But a 19-9 month allowed the Padres to make up the difference and get them back to the postseason.

"True medal shows when you have an opportunity to overcome all the things we did," Hoffman said. "This is just the front part of it. We have so many things left to accomplish. The great thing about today is that we threw our name in the hat. We will be facing some great teams but anything can happen."

Cameron provided Wells all the offense he needed in the fifth when he deposited a 3-2 pitch from Edgar Gonzalez (3-4) into the left field seats for his 22nd homer and a 2-0 lead.

"To get a big hit at a time like that is always a good feeling," Cameron said. "It turns out it was a big hit and I couldn't be any happier to have gotten the opportunity."

The Padres added to the advantage in the next frame, when Josh Bard plated a run with a single off pitcher Randy Choate's glove.

Gonzalez, who relieved Juan Cruz after the Arizona starter pitched two scoreless innings, was charged with all three runs and three hits in three innings.

"Congrats to the Padres. With all the injuries they had to put up with, it has been an impressive run for them," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "You never want anyone to celebrate on their field but what they have done, with Hoffman, they had a couple of rough stretches, and at times it looked like they were down and out but they recovered."

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