SAN DIEGO - When the Diamondbacks arrived here on Monday, the bullpen chatter centered around Brandon Lyon's grip on the closer's spot.
For the next two days, the bare bulb was shined in the direction of setup man Jon Rauch, whose struggles continued with two more subpar appearances against the Padres.
Wednesday? Chad Qualls, come on down.
Qualls, who hadn't allowed a run in his last nine appearances and had gone a long way toward erasing a miserable May and June, was handed a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning but promptly gave up singles to Brian Giles, Chase Headley and series hero Jody Gerut in a 5-4 loss to the Padres.
"He's our freshest arm at the time. He just got some balls up," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said of Qualls. "The first matchup is good for him; he's our best guy on Giles."
Qualls admitted he was going after the hitters and might have given them better pitches to hit than he should have - especially to Gerut.
"I threw him a slider down and in and right now he's seeing the ball real well," Qualls said. "I thought I made an OK pitch, but if I had thrown the ball in the dirt he probably would have swung at it. I just need to be a little smarter in those situations and not be as aggressive.
Qualls also said he wasn't overly concerned when Headley followed his game-tying hit by stealing second base with two out, putting him in position to score on Gerut's single.
"If he goes he goes, if he doesn't he doesn't," Qualls said. "I know I can get the hitter out, and that's what I was focusing on."
Even though Gerut has been red hot all month, and particularly during this series, Melvin said he didn't consider walking Gerut with first base open because Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego's top hitter, was available to pinch hit.
UPTON ON THE WAY
Maybe it was the second home run of Justin Upton's stint with Triple-A Tucson on Tuesday. Maybe it was the last four games for the Diamondbacks, when the offense has again sunk back into a slump.
Whatever the reason, Melvin said Upton will be back in Phoenix for this weekend's Dodgers series, perhaps as early as Friday night but likely no later than Saturday.
"It sounds like he's made some significant strides in the last few days," Melvin said.
But it doesn't appear Melvin is ready for a wholesale overhaul of his defense - such as moving Chad Tracy to third base and Mark Reynolds to second - to get his most lethal bats all in the lineup.
He is, however, looking for something better than the three-hit effort against the Padres Tuesday, which led to a shake-up on Wednesday.
Conor Jackson moved up to the No. 2 spot while Chris Young was dropped to seventh along with rest days for Chris Snyder (replaced by Miguel Montero) and Augie Ojeda (replaced by Chris Burke).
"A couple of days of not-so-great results and not a great feeling, it was time to shake things up," Melvin said.
But after saying Reynolds has the defensive tools to play second, Melvin made it clear that "I like him at third."
Melvin said the explanation for his team's hot-and-cold stints at the plate is simple.
"That's baseball," he said. "The Rockies were expected to do more offensively (this year). The Dodgers got Manny (Ramirez) and they were rolling and now they haven't swung the bats well of late.
"We can be, at times, a bit of a swing-and-miss team. We've been better about working the count of late, we just haven't seen it (lately)."
Tucson first baseman Josh Whitesell was named the Pacific Coast League rookie of the year. The 26-year-old Whitesell was hitting .324 with 24 home runs, 33 doubles and 102 RBIs for the Sidewinders.