Peavy lowers ERA to 2.25

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- While the rest of his teammates were running on
adrenaline, slugger Phil Nevin needed four bags of IV fluid to get
through a critical weekend for the San Diego Padres.

Fighting a virus that's been going around the clubhouse, Nevin
had IVs on Saturday night and again an hour before Sunday's game,
which the Padres won 7-1 for a three-game sweep of Arizona that
helped them make up ground in the NL wild-card race.

"I've been waiting a long time to play games that mean
something this time of year," said Nevin, who hit two sacrifice
flies Sunday. "I wasn't about to sit one out."

Nevin joined the Padres in 1999, the year after they were swept
by the New York Yankees in the World Series. San Diego had five
straight losing seasons before rebuilding into a contender this

With Jake Peavy pitching six strong innings to lower his
NL-leading ERA to 2.25, the Padres pulled within 2 games of the
Chicago Cubs in the wild-card race and remained 4 games behind
first-place Los Angeles in the NL West. Houston and San Francisco
are also ahead of the Padres in the wild-card chase, and the Giants
are two games ahead of San Diego in the division.

Nevin was too sick to drive to his suburban home after Saturday
night's win, so he checked into a hotel near the downtown ballpark.
On Sunday, he skipped his usual postgame beer with teammate Brian
Giles and sprawled on a clubhouse couch, watching football on TV.

The Padres host the Giants for three games starting Tuesday

"We've got a day off tomorrow so that'll be a lot of recovery
time, and hopefully I'll feel good on Tuesday," Nevin said.

The Padres know they've got to win their remaining six games and
get help from other teams.

"Crazier things have happened," Ryan Klesko said.

After three games against the Giants, the Padres finish with
three at Arizona, which has the worst record in the majors. That
same weekend, the Giants play three games against the Dodgers in
Los Angeles.

"This is not an insurmountable situation," Mark Loretta said.
"We feel like we're playing our best baseball of the year."

Several Padres have either been through or are currently sick
with a virus, including Klesko, David Wells, manager Bruce Bochy
and reliever Scott Linebrink, who was too sick to come to the
ballpark Saturday and Sunday.

"Especially where we are, nobody wants to miss these games for
any reason," Loretta said.

Peavy (14-6), in his second full big league season, allowed one
run and three hits, struck out seven and walked two. He needs to
pitch 1 2/3 more innings this season to qualify for the ERA title.
The only Padres pitcher to win an ERA crown was Randy Jones in

Peavy will make one more start. Winning the ERA title "would be
nice, just to have a San Diego Padre in there and to represent the
kind of year we've had," he said.

Working on three days' rest for the first time in his career,
the 23-year-old right-hander shut down the Diamondbacks until the
fifth, when he loaded the bases with one out before allowing Chad
Tracy's sacrifice fly that made it 5-1. Peavy hit Alex Cintron with
a pitch to load the bases again, then got Robby Hammock to pop up
to second base.

"I think that was probably the ballgame," Peavy said. "There,
you have to bear down."

Three San Diego relievers finished the six-hitter.

The Padres had 12 hits, all singles. They batted around in the
first inning to take a 4-0 lead against Steve Sparks (3-7).

The first three batters reached before Nevin hit a sacrifice
fly. Loretta slid in ahead of first baseman Shea Hillenbrand's
throw on Klesko's grounder, and Rich Aurilia and Ramon Hernandez
followed with RBI singles.

The Padres made it 5-0 in the second when Jay Payton hit a
leadoff single, advanced on Loretta's single and scored on the play
when center fielder Luis Terrero bobbled the ball for an error.

Aurilia hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Nevin had one in
the seventh.

Arizona went 1-8 on its final road trip.

"It's been a tough year," Hillenbrand said. "We just want to
do what we can to finish strong and show pride in what we do."

Sparks, who pitched well in three starts against the Padres
earlier this year, allowed five runs, four earned, and nine singles
in four innings. He walked three and struck out one.

Game notes
Loretta was hit on the left forearm by a pitch from Shane
Nance in the seventh. He came out, but Bochy said it was because
Loretta's quad tightened up. One batter earlier, Nance plunked
Payton on the left shoulder. ... Loretta scored his 107th run,
setting a Padres record for a second baseman. The previous mark was
106 by Alan Wiggins in 1984. ... Wells was throwing in the bullpen
in the seventh inning. He said it was regular work between starts,
but he would have been available if necessary.