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| Sports |

Eric Byrnes, Mark Reynolds Help Lift D-Backs Over San Diego Padres

As far as Eric Byrnes is concerned, 2009 has been the "year of the goat."
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The 33-year-old left fielder has been consistently railed on by fans and sports wags over the bulk of the last two seasons for his incompetent ballplaying, repeated whiffs, occasional tantrums, and failing to justify his multimillion-dollar contract. (One of Deadspin's resident snarkers put it pretty harshly in a recent piece by stating simply that he's "fucking awful at baseball.") The Chase Field boo birds seem to emerge whenever he steps up to the plate, and very few tears were shed when the wild-haired batter went on the DL after fracturing his left hand back in June.
But despite all the rampant jeering, it felt like Byrnes was on a quest to win everyone back last night as his offensive theatrics helped propel the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park. He blasted a dinger into the left-field seats off the Friars' Wade LeBlanc in the third to send his squad up 1-0.

While the Padres notched a pair of runs in the following inning, Byrnesie evened things up with an RBI swat deep into left center that became a rather bizarro play. As Brandon Allen dashed toward the dish to tie the score, a cut-off throw from the outfield binged off Nick Hundley's mitt and sent the catcher scrambling toward the D-Backs dugout to keep the ball alive.

Meanwhile, Byrnes took a shot at an inside-the-park homer by excitedly motoring in from third, only to get tagged out on a short-hopper to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Repeated replays on Fox Sports Arizona showed the ball barely making it into the dugout, but the home-plate ump sided with the home team.

The tie lasted into the top of the ninth, when Mark Reynolds turned a 3-1 fastball down the center into the two-run downtowner (number 42) that secured the win. Dan Haren was also on target during the evening, recovering from San Diego's two runs to efficiently eviscerate the Padres lineup in the later innings, earning his 200th strikeout and 14th win of the season.

Arizona goes for the series sweep later today (which, if successful, would be their first since blanking the Houston Astros last month) behind Doug Davis (7-13, 3.99 ERA). He'll face off against Edward Mujica (3-4, 3.33) during the afternoon game, which starts at 12:35 p.m. There's no TV for this one, so tune into KTAR-AM 620 for the play-by-play. More info:

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