LOS ANGELES -- Sure, Aaron Harang wanted to stay in Saturday's game.

But having not pitched a big league game since being placed on the disabled list June 10 with a right foot contusion, the Padres' righty knew manager Bud Black had no choice but to remove him after 95 pitches, despite his six no-hit innings against the Dodgers.

"It wasn't frustrating," Harang said. "Bud was looking out for my health right there. If it's a different situation, maybe if I'm through seven, it's probably gonna be a different scenario."

Before the game, Black had said he planned to err on the side of caution with Harang, who threw 70 pitches in four innings Monday in a rehab start. With a fresh bullpen, Black stayed true to his word, using four relievers from the seventh inning on in the Padres' 1-0 loss to the Dodgers.

"The guy hasn't pitched in a month," Black said. "Go out for the seventh and then what? Go out for the eighth and then the ninth? Throw 130 pitches when he hasn't pitched for a month?"

Harang said had he not been coming off the disabled list, he would have attempted to fight through the high pitch count for the Padres' first no-hitter. But it was the logical decision to remove him after six.

"I've thrown 130 before," Harang said. "But I wasn't coming right off the DL and not having pitched competitively but four innings in a whole month."

Harang knew there was no chance he'd last nine innings, though he joked with Black after being removed, asking why he'd replace a pitcher with a no-hitter. That said, after the sixth inning, Harang's only question was whether he'd be left in for one more inning -- not three.

Harang dominated in those six innings, mixing plenty of offspeed pitches with a good fastball. He struck out six and walked three.

He returned early from his rehab assignment to pitch Saturday, initially planning to pitch two games with Class A Lake Elsinore. But he felt no ill effects from his foot injury in his first game. He wasn't on a pitch count Saturday, though he would have been limited to 80-90 pitches had he stayed on his rehab.

Black offered nothing but praise for Harang, whose ERA dropped to 3.45 with the no-decision.

"He pitched great," Black said. "He was really in control of the game."

The Padres lost the game on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning, a batter after their combined no-hitter was broken up 8 2/3 innings into the game.

Harang said he wasn't frustrated with the offense for failing to score -- it hasn't done so in 20 innings. He was simply disappointed the Padres lost their fourth straight.

"I'm out there trying to do what I can to help the team win," he said. "Obviously I did my job today. You kind of wish for a different outcome, but that's why this game's so much fun, because you never know what's going to happen."

Neshek optioned to make room for Harang

LOS ANGELES -- With starting pitcher Aaron Harang coming off the disabled list to pitch Saturday's game in Los Angeles, the Padres optioned reliever Pat Neshek to Triple-A Tucson.

Neshek has a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings with the Padres this season.

Manager Bud Black said the biggest reason the Padres chose Neshek and not young righty Anthony Bass was that he would like to have Bass as a long man coming out of the bullpen.

"Pat needs to work on a few things, too -- he's gotta get that ball off the plate a little more," Black said. "But it's more that Anthony gives us truer length out of the bullpen."

Neshek was sent to Triple-A Tucson earlier this year before being recalled in mid-May. With Tucson, he is 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA in nine games.

Gwynn praises Jeter's run to 3,000-hit mark

LOS ANGELES -- The filled Yankee Stadium, the dramatic at-bat, the energy of the moment leading up to a milestone, and achieving it on a home run -- all of those factors had the Padres' 3,000-hit club member wondering if he would have been able to handle his historic hit the way Derek Jeter did.

"I would've been crying rounding second base," Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn said.

Gwynn had nothing but praise for Jeter, welcoming the newest member into a club that now includes 28 players. He called the 3,000-hit fraternity one of the most special in baseball because in includes so many different types of hitters.

The first time Jeter and Gwynn met was in New York for Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. Gwynn said Jeter approached him with the line, "Man, you're gonna have to teach me how to hit."

"I just always had respect for him because he just does things right," Gwynn said. "And as far as the hitting is concerned, he moved the ball around. To get to that mark, that's what you have to be able to do. You can't be one-dimensional."

Gwynn, who watched the hit in the Dodgers' clubhouse, recalled his 3,000th hit, which came in Montreal before just more than 13,000 fans. After watching Jeter's hit, Gwynn said the biggest difference -- "a whole lot less people."

Approaching the milestone was one of the few times in his career he was pressing at the plate, Gwynn said. When he finally got the hit, a single, the first thing he felt was relief.

Gwynn recalled fondly the night before in St. Louis when Mark McGwire hit his 500th home run and Gwynn notched his 2,999th hit. The energy, he said, was electric, and the Cardinals fans were cheering Gwynn just as Gwynn was trying to deliver for them.

Gwynn, who added he wished he could have reached 3,000 in San Diego, said he wouldn't admit it to himself at the time, but he changed his approach a bit while going for the mark. The added pressure of being asked about it every day made him overthink the milestone and his at-bats leading up to it.

"It's difficult because you're the center of attention," Gwynn said. "You don't want to be, but you are."