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Thomas, Gurriel help the Diamondbacks rally for a 5-4 win over the sinking Padres

Arizona Diamondbacks' Lourdes Gurriel Jr. connects for a two-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the seventh inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Diamondbacks’ Lourdes Gurriel Jr. connects for a two-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the seventh inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

BY DAVID BRANDT contributung

PHOENIX (AP) — Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has been right in the middle of many of the best moments for the Diamondbacks this year.

It’s no coincidence that when the All-Star’s bat hit the skids midway through the season, Arizona’s record started to plummet.

But Gurriel and the D-backs might have got back on track Sunday, when the outfielder delivered a pinch-hit, two-run homer that helped Arizona rally for a 5-4 win over the sinking San Diego Padres.

“He just needs to be the best version of himself,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of Gurriel. “He needs to understand what he is, who he is and how he fits into the lineup. Just be himself. He doesn’t need to carry the other 12 position players, he’s one of 13.

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“When he walks into the box with a plan, he’s got a really good swing.”

The D-backs took two of three games from the Padres with both teams hanging around the fringe of the National League wild-card race. Arizona pushed back to .500 at 59-59 while San Diego fell to 56-62.

The Padres have lost six of their last seven.

“We’ve had some tough losses this year, but this is as tough of a loss as we’ve had, based on where we are, who we’re playing and what every game means right now,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said.

The Diamondbacks trailed 4-2 in the seventh, but Gurriel — pinch-hitting for Jose Herrera — hit a full-count, changeup over the left field fence off Nick Martinez to tie the game. It was the first pinch-hit homer of the 29-year-old’s career.

“You should always be ready, any time you’re on the bench,” Gurriel said through an interpreter. “Because at any point, a situation like this can happen.”

In the eighth, Christian Walker hit a one-out single and then moved to third on another single by Gabriel Moreno. Thomas followed with a sinking liner into right-center that Trent Grisham was able to catch, but he wasn’t able to stop Walker from tagging up and scoring.

Paul Sewald worked the ninth for his second save in two days, working around a two-out walk to Jake Cronenworth. Gary Sánchez struck out to end the game.

Reliever Kyle Nelson (6-3) got the win.

The Padres jumped all over D-backs starter Brandon Pfaadt in the first, pounding five hits for 3-0 lead. The right-handed Pfaadt — one of the team’s top prospects — settled down after that rough start. He made it through 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out a career-high eight.

“Really good at-bats in the first,” Melvin said. “You would think we’d have a little momentum going the rest of the game.”

The D-backs cut the margin to 3-1 in the bottom of the first after Corbin Carroll led off with a triple and Ketel Marte brought him home with an infield single. Geraldo Perdomo’s solo homer in the fifth made it 3-2.

The Padres padded their lead in the seventh on Cronenworth’s double down the left-field line off Kevin Ginkel that scored Manny Machado, making it 4-2.

Padres starter Seth Lugo gave up two runs on six hits, striking out four. Robert Suarez (1-2) took the loss after giving up one run in the eighth.

ROSTER SHAKE-UP

The Diamondbacks continued their roster shake-up before Sunday’s game, demoting right-hander Ryne Nelson to Triple-A and designating veteran catcher Carson Kelly for assignment.

Nelson has been in the team’s rotation all season, but has struggled with consistency. He has a 6-7 record and 5.47 ERA. Kelly has been with the organization for five seasons, but missed a big chunk of this year with a fractured right forearm suffered during spring training.

The catcher was hitting .226 in 84 at-bats since his return.

To take their place on the roster, the D-backs reinstated Moreno (left shoulder inflammation) from the 10-day injured list and called up right-hander Bryce Jarvis.

Jarvis — a 2020 first-round pick out of Duke — will be making his big league debut.

UP NEXT

Padres: Return home for a three-game series against Baltimore starting Monday. San Diego will start RHP Yu Darvish (8-7, 4.19 ERA) in the first game.

D-backs: Travel to Colorado for a three-game series starting Monday. Arizona will start RHP Merrill Kelly (9-5, 3.05 ERA) in the first game.