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Webb hits batter, walks two, throws wild pitch in first

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Even though he's in his 10th major league
season, Ismael Valdez was anxious before his first start of the
year with the San Diego Padres.

Valdez responded with a win, and the Padres edged the Arizona
Diamondbacks 3-2 on Saturday night to snap a three-game losing
skid.

Richie Sexson hit a two-run homer for the Diamondbacks, but San
Diego took advantage of a wild Brandon Webb to score three times in
the first inning.

Valdez (1-0) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings,
drawing the start after three relief appearances this season. He
moved into the starting rotation in place of injured Sterling
Hitchcock.

"I was very nervous," Valdez said. "I don't remember the last
time that I was so nervous -- especially after three losing games
and facing a great ballclub in Arizona."

With Valdez nearing his predetermined pitch count, Sexson pulled
the Diamondbacks to 3-2 in the sixth. He followed a two-out single
by Luis Gonzalez with his fourth homer of the season.

"Valdez just did a superb job," Padres manager Bruce Bochy
said. "He had great command and good stuff. He really was in
control the whole way. He made one mistake when he got the ball up,
but aside from that, he was close to flawless."

The Padres took a 3-0 lead in the first against Webb (1-1) with
the help of two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch.

"The first inning has been kind of bad my first three starts,
so I'm going to try to harness the adrenaline or something," Webb
said. "Other than the first inning, it went well, but that was the
whole game."

Scott Linebrink and Akinori Otsuka each worked a scoreless
inning in relief of Valdez before Trevor Hoffman finished with a
perfect ninth for his second save in three opportunities.

"That's how you draw it up," the Padres' Phil Nevin said. "We
have a lot of confidence in those three guys to end the game."

Otsuka escaped trouble in the eighth after allowing runners to
reach first and third with one out. The threat started with a
one-out walk to Steve Finley, awarded when Otsuka went to his mouth
on the mound for ball four.

But Otsuka got Gonzalez on a popup and struck out Sexson.

"We'll take a rally however we can start it. That was
unexpected," Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. "I'll take my
chances every night in that situation, but it didn't work for us
this time."

Webb settled down to work six innings, allowing two hits, all in
the first. He struck out seven and walked a season-high five.

In the first, Sean Burroughs and Mark Loretta singled to start
the Padres' rally. After a walk loaded the bases, Nevin was hit by
a pitch to bring in the first run.

Another run scored when Ryan Klesko grounded into a forceout.
After a walk loaded the bases again, Webb threw a wild pitch with
two outs, making it 3-0.

"We're still sputtering offensively," Bochy said. "We know
that. But we got it done this time. We got some breaks early, and
it held up. The offense will get going. There's no question about
that."

The three runs matched the total of earned runs allowed by Webb
in his previous two starts, spanning 12 innings.

Coming into the game, Valdez had pitched only 2 2-3 innings this
season. In his previous appearance, he went two innings and gave up
one run in San Diego's 8-3 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday.

"I was just trying to go one pitch at a time and be aggressive
in the strike zone," Valdez said. "(Catcher) Miguel Ojeda helped
me out a lot. He gave me a great target and he gave me confidence
with my pitches. Then I got better and better throughout the
game."

Game notes
Ojeda made his first start of the season in place of Ramon
Hernandez. Bochy noted that Ojeda often worked with Valdez in
spring training. ... Bochy planned to hold Valdez to approximately
75 pitches. He ended up throwing 79, including 51 strikes. ...
Arizona's Danny Bautista extended his hitting streak to 10 games
with a single in the second inning when the ball fell in front of
RF Brian Giles, who apparently lost it in the lights. ... The
Padres set a season attendance high with 42,261 fans, their fourth
sellout in eight games at new Petco Park.