SAN DIEGO -- J.D. Durbin saw a developing problem as Josh Bard's fly ball coasted toward left-center, where a locomotive and a deer were converging on the spot. With Mike Cameron on third, a drop would end his bid for career shutout No. 1 in front of family and friends. Aaron Rowand and Michael Bourn collided, though Rowand snagged the ball for the final out of a 9-0 win over the Padres at PETCO Park, and Durbin had his shutout. "Then I fist-pumped," said Durbin, who watched the play with interest from the pitcher's mound. "I was going, 'Catch it, catch it.' I had a lot of family and friends here, so today was exciting. When they collided, I didn't know if I should jump up and down because I didn't know if it was dropped."
No worries, said Rowand. "Regardless of how it looked, that ball was going to be caught," Rowand said. And so Durbin has caught on with the Phillies, after being cast aside this season by three other teams: the Twins, Diamondbacks and Red Sox. The low-risk, high-reward waiver pickup tossed a five-hitter, besting National League All-Star starter Jake Peavy. The Phillies took three of four games in the series and ended their West Coast road trip against two NL West powers at 4-3 -- though a Mets come-from-behind win in Los Angeles kept the Phillies five games behind in the NL East. Durbin had more than one runner on base in just one inning, the eighth, and allowed only four runners beyond first base. He was helped by two inning-ending double plays. As he did in his previous success -- a six-inning, one-run effort against Los Angeles -- Durbin credited relaxing and breathing properly between pitches, a crucial development for the max-effort pitcher. His epiphany came while shagging flies in the outfield, at some point between his June 29 disaster start against the Mets and his Tuesday outing in Los Angeles. Veteran Jamie Moyer pulled him aside and reminded him to not be in such a hurry. "He told me that I control the game," Durbin said. "He said the bus doesn't leave until you're done pitching. I took that to heart and was thinking about it. I'm not trying to throw the ball every two seconds. It almost seems too easy. Slowing the game down is ultimately how you control it." So there was the suddenly deliberate Durbin, patiently getting the sign from catcher Chris Coste, gathering himself, then rocking and firing. San Diego helped him out by swinging at a lot of first pitches, though Durbin made quality ones. "[Catching instructor] Mick Billmeyer told me to tell him to breathe like the lizards of the Galapagos Islands," Coste said. "Fortunately, I didn't tell him that, because that might have really messed him up." PETCO Park's reputation as a supreme pitcher's park meant nothing to the NL's highest-scoring team. After being shut out by NL ERA leader Chris Young, 1-0, on Thursday, the Phillies scored 28 runs in the next three games, pelting Justin Germano, David Wells and Peavy. Peavy, who had allowed one or fewer earned runs in 10 of his 19 starts, coughed up four for the third time this season. As brilliant as he's been for San Diego, he couldn't shut down a team with four players among the top 10 in on-base percentage, three in the top 10 in runs scored and two in the top 10 in batting average. Jimmy Rollins tagged Peavy first with a solo homer leading off the third. Shane Victorino drove in three runs with three hits, including two doubles. Like they did Saturday night, the Phillies ravaged the bullpen, plating five in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach. Durbin did the rest, and helped a rotation continue a run began by him. Since getting blown out, 10-3, on July 16, the starters have posted a 2.77 ERA in six games. Durbin started two of those games and recorded his first two wins and his first shutout. His outing Saturday was attended by about 15 family members and friends, including his father, Paul. "I told them I was pitching the Sunday day game in San Diego," Durbin said. "I told them not to do anything during the day. I'm glad they're all supporting me." The Phillies are supporting him, in part out of necessity. With general manager Pat Gillick finding limited trading partners, the team may wind up counting on Durbin and rookie Kyle Kendrick -- who by the way, have a combined 4.01 ERA -- to complete a quintet that includes Moyer, Cole Hamels and Adam Eaton. If the two rookies keep pitching well, manager Charlie Manuel may relax, too. "It makes me feel better," Manuel said. "What more can we ask of them? They're being developed at the Major League level. That first night in L.A. [July 16] might have been one of the ugliest games we played, as far as how we went about it. That can take some starch out of you, but we were able to bounce back and take three out of four [from the Padres]."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.