PHOENIX (AP) — Juan Soto homered for the first time in three weeks and Yu Darvish pitched six scoreless innings, helping the San Diego Padres beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-1 on Sunday.
Soto had three hits and two RBIs in San Diego’s third straight win. He walked and scored on Manny Machado’s 29th homer in the first. He connected for a solo drive in the fifth, singled in the eighth and doubled in the ninth.
“If he heats up, which we all expect him to, this is going to be a much more difficult lineup to navigate,” San Diego manager Bob Melvin said.
Soto, who was acquired in a blockbuster trade with Washington on Aug. 2, hit just .089 (5 for 56) in his previous 17 games. It was the second time Soto and Machado homered in the same game as teammates.
“I’m trusting these guys,” Soto said. “When you come to a good team and you don’t perform and the team is winning, there is no pressure at all. I wasn’t feeling well at the plate. I started getting to it. I’m feeling better. I’m seeing the ball better.”
San Diego (81-66) moved a half-game ahead of Philadelphia for the second NL wild card. The Phillies lost 5-2 to Atlanta on Sunday.
The Padres outscored the Diamondbacks 20-4 to win the last three games of the series after dropping the opener.
“Early in the games, we looked active,” Melvin said. “We’ve had a tough time early in the game for a while now, and you see guys out here early now. There is a little more sense of urgency from the first pitch on.”
Darvish (15-7) allowed one hit, struck out eight and walked one in his fifth straight win. He improved to 4-0 against the Diamondbacks this season.
“The fastball felt good, so why not use it, right?" Darvish said through a translator. "That’s why I went with it.”
Ketel Marte hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth to account for Arizona’s only run. The Diamondbacks finished with four hits.
Arizona right-hander Ryne Nelson (1-1) allowed four runs, three earned, and three hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked four.
The 24-year-old Nelson, a second-round pick in the 2019 amateur draft, pitched 13 scoreless innings over his first two big league starts.
Darvish retired his first 13 hitters before losing a perfect game and a no-hitter on consecutive batters in the fifth. Marte walked with one out before Corbin Carroll dropped a single into short left field.
Darvish misplayed a routine roller back to the mound for an error that loaded the bases with two outs, but he struck out Geraldo Perdomo looking on a slider to end the inning.
Machado and Soto previously homered in the same game Aug. 9 in a 7-4 victory over San Francisco. Soto’s homer in the fifth against Arizona was his first since Aug. 28 at Kansas City and No. 25 overall on the year.