With the 2001 world champs looking on, the Arizona Diamondbacks took care of business yet again this weekend on their unlikely march toward the National League West title. This time, their victims were the lowly San Diego Padres, who were stunned by D-Back comebacks on Friday and Saturday before finally (barely) hanging on to a lead Sunday for a win.
With the San Francisco Giants losing two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the D-Backs' magic number stands at eight with 15 games to left to play. Any combination of Arizona wins and San Francisco losses reduces the magic number. According to www.coolstandings.com, the likelihood of the D-Backs winning the NL West at this point stands at 99.8 percent. The D-Backs also closed to within a half-game of taking the Milwaukee Brewers' No. 2 seed in the postseason, which would give the D-Backs home-field advantage in the National League Division Series.
On Friday, Daniel Hudson went the distance in the D-Back's 3-2 win, tossing a 106-pitch complete game and limiting the Padres to just one earned run on five hits. Hudson upped his record to 16-9 and lowered his earned-run average to 3.41, further putting the National League on notice that he and staff ace Ian Kennedy could prove a formidable pitching duo in the NL postseason.
The D-Backs were blanked through five innings, but Justin Upton ripped his 30th home run of the season in the sixth. Then, they scored a single run in the seventh and took the lead in the eighth when Lyle Overbay (who was a rookie on the 2001 D-Back squad) singled home Aaron Hill to make it 3-2 and give Arizona its 14th straight home win.
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On Saturday, the D-Backs played catch-up again -- and again looked to Overbay for some late-inning heroics in what turned out to be the D-Backs' 42nd come-from-behind win of the season. With Arizona trailing 5-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Chris Young and Overbay hit back-to-back homers off Heath Bell to tie the game at 5. In the bottom of the 10th, the D-Backs loaded the bases and won the game on a walk in front of a sellout crowd. It was a franchise-record 15th straight win at home, which is also the longest such streak this year in the majors.
On Sunday, they almost did it again. Trailing 7-0 in the sixth inning, Arizona rallied for five runs and one more in the seventh to make it 7-6. In the ninth, leadoff hitter Willie Bloomquist reached first base, but Bell this time didn't make any more mistakes, putting the D-Backs down in order to secure the Padres' win.
The D-Backs embark on their lost road trip of the season today as they open a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Joe Saunders (10-12, 3.88) will take the mound against Ted Lilly (9-13, 4.37). First pitch is 7:10 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info: www.dbacks.com.