SAN DIEGO (AP) — For a player who was without a job in April, Clay Buchholz is performing like a mainstay.
Buchholz pitched a five-hitter, David Peralta hit a three-run homer and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres 5-1 on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
A minor league free agent signing in May, Buchholz (6-2) allowed a leadoff double to Travis Jankowski but retired the next 13 batters he faced. Hunter Renfroe homered in the eighth before Buchholz retired the side in the ninth en route to his 10th career complete game and his first since 2015.
“It felt good,” Buchholz said. “It has been a little bit since I threw a complete game. I didn’t have my changeup, so to do that when you only have a couple of pitches to go to was pretty special.”
Buchholz struck out six and did not walk a batter in improving to 3-0 in three career starts at Petco Park. He has won five of his last six starts.
“I felt like we had a little bit of a cushion and we could make that decision to stretch him out a little bit,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “I told him he was on a short leash before the ninth inning started and he said he felt really good. The shape of his pitches and the command of his pitches to the first batter told me he was OK.”
Lovullo was a coach with the Red Sox when Buchholz emerged as a promising young pitcher and threw a no-hitter in his second career start.
“We hoped this is what we would get from him,” Lovullo said. “From the first bullpen session, we knew there was still something special left in him.”
Arizona staked Buchholz to an early lead. Peralta belted a 3-0 pitch from Jacob Nix into the center-field seats as part of a five-run first. Alex Avila added a two-run single in the inning.
“I don’t think I’ve done that on a 3-0 pitch before. I just took a chance,” Peralta said. “It went well and we got the lead early, which is good. You have to find ways to win, and Buchholz did an unbelievable job.”
In his second major league start, Nix (1-1) allowed the first five Arizona batters to reach base and was removed from the game after hitting Jon Jay. Nix gave up five runs on five hits and walked five with one strikeout.
“Sometimes there’s a learning process involved, especially as quickly as we’ve brought him and a couple other guys here,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “He has good stuff. He’s going to throw well.”
Kazuhisa Makita replaced Nix to finish the first and pitched three more scoreless innings for his longest career outing.
“I gave up a couple soft hits and walked a couple guys after I got a little frustrated, and next thing you know I was out of the game,” Nix said. “Everybody in here has had tough days, and it’s part of it. It’s not my first, not my last, and I’m not the last guy it’s going to happen to.”
Arizona has won its last five games at Petco Park. The complete game is Arizona’s second of the season. Patrick Corbin tossed a complete game on April 17 against San Francisco.
Diamondbacks: 3B Jake Lamb had successful surgery on his left shoulder on Thursday. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said the surgery went as expected and Lamb should be ready for spring training in 2019.
Padres: RHP Trey Wingenter exited the game after a line drive struck him in the back.
Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray (3-2, 4.83) takes the mound for the Arizona in the second of the four-game series. Ray has allowed two or fewer runs in three of his last four starts.
Padres: LHP Joey Lucchesi (6-6, 3.45) gets the call for San Diego. Lucchesi had made three starts against Arizona this season and taken the loss each time.