SAN DIEGO - There were certain things manager Kirk Gibson expected out of his team heading into the season, areas in which he figured the Diamondbacks might struggle. Protecting leads late in games was not one of them.
"I don't think anybody thought this would be one of the things we (wouldn't) do well in the first month," Gibson said. "But it is. It's a fact. We'll try to clean that up."
Yonder Alonso hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off starter Wade Miley in the fifth inning and the Padres held on to beat the Diamondbacks 7-6 Friday night for their seventh win in nine games. With the Padres trailing 3-2, Alonso drove a 2-2 pitch from Miley (2-1) into the Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 deck in right-center, his fourth.
It would have been a home run even in Petco Park's old configuration. The fences were moved in 11 feet from the home run porch in the right-field corner to the gap in an attempt to make the downtown ballpark play fairer. Jesus Guzman was aboard on a grounder.
It was a rare misstep for the D'backs' starters.
Their bullpen is another story. Except for left-hander Matt Reynolds, none of the Diamondbacks' late-inning relievers have been immune to struggles in recent weeks. Closer J.J. Putz and setup man David Hernandez have given up key home runs while right-hander Brad Ziegler and lefty Tony Sipp have surrendered game-winning hits.
The Diamondbacks bullpen didn't blow any leads in Friday night's loss, but two relievers allowed runs that wound up being critical. Right-hander Josh Collmenter was charged with two runs in 1 1/3 innings while Ziegler allowed a run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning.
After Gerardo Parra's three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning turned a 7-3 deficit into a one-run game, the runs the bullpen allowed turned out to be costly.
While Diamondbacks relievers have a solid 3.26 ERA on the season, they have also served up 12 home runs and have blown a league-worst 10 save opportunities.
Though the mistakes have cost the Diamondbacks games, including three in a row to the San Francisco Giants, who completed a sweep at Chase Field earlier this week, neither Gibson nor general manager Kevin Towers seem to have lost any faith. They believe the relievers have been overworked, in part because of the six extra-inning games the team has played. The Diamondbacks entered Friday with 90 2/3 innings out of their bullpen, the sixth highest total in the league. Their relievers ranked third with 89 appearances.
Towers believes the bullpen will stabilize once the team get further into the season, when starting pitchers are pitching deeper into games with more regularity.
"(Pitching coach) Charlie (Nagy) can't even get out there to work with a guy (before a game) because he might be pitching that night," Towers said.
"Once you get into the season, you have more time to maybe work on some mechanical things to work with these guys."
• What: Diamondbacks at Padres
• When: 5:40 p.m.
• TV; radio: FSAZ; 1490-AM, 104.9-FM
Includes information from The Associated Press.