With the Padres losing three straight and the Dodgers winning three straight, the tide in the National League West had turned, ever so slightly. Probably just a blip on the radar, nothing to be overly concerned about. Perhaps.

But with what would have been a fourth loss in a row for San Diego, along with another Los Angeles victory Sunday, not to mention a little three-game streak for Arizona, and the Pads might’ve had a wee bit more to perturbed about.

Good thing for San Diego it didn’t happen. L.A., in sweeping the hapless Giants, did win its fourth straight all right, but the Pads were careful not to accommodate the Diamondbacks. Instead, the team got a much-appreciated turnaround from Heath Bell and the bullpen Sunday, and more importantly, a big win for Justin Germano, who’d been working on a little streak of his own.

Germano had seen his ERA rise from 2.36 to 3.90 over his last four starts, while the club had lost all four by a combined score of 23-8. With Greg Maddux having dropped his last three starts, and having given up 15 earned runs in 15 innings (which, if my math is correct and I think it is, is an ERA of exactly 9.00) over that stretch, San Diego could ill afford to have had 40 percent of its rotation slumping simultaneously. Throw in a potential bicep issue with Jake Peavy, and disaster was not completely beyond the realm.

So yeah, the Pads needed to avert being swept by Arizona, and they really needed a strong effort from Justin Germano. Mission accomplished indeed, in the form of a 4-0 decision for Germano, along with an extremely clutch two-out single in the sixth, to aid his own cause.

The Friars come home to face the Mets and then the Phils, with the Dodgers playing the same NL East squads in the opposite order. The DBacks are at the Brewers starting Monday, Colorado gets to play three with the Bucs, while the Giants go to, well, what difference does it make where the Giants go?

— HOWARD COLE

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