It was déjà vu all over again at Chase Field this weekend as the Arizona Diamondbacks once again needed a late win to avoid getting swept in a series.
They got it in extra innings against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, scrapping together a rally in the bottom of the 12th to give themselves a measure of respect with a 6-5 victory.
The rest of the weekend was a blur of inept pitching and nonexistent clutch hitting in 5-2 and 5-3 losses on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to the defending world champions.
Daniel Hudson had his first bad start of the season Friday but, paradoxically, struck out a season-high 10 batters in just six innings of work. Hudson was done in by a three-run homer off the bat of Pablo Sandoval in the first, even if he did settle in nicely afterward. Sandoval's blast put the Diamondbacks in a hole the team couldn't hit their way out of.
Giants hurler Matt Cain did his best to keep the Diamondbacks down in the ditch, going six innings and giving up one run in the process. The real problem Friday night and for much of Saturday was the team's inability to get things going against mediocre relievers. Friday they scored one run off Javier López in the bottom of the ninth but lost because they couldn't do more against him, Jeremy Affeldt, or Ramón Ramírez.
Saturday's contest was brutal to watch: Joe Saunders threw five double-play balls, but that just meant he was allowing too many baserunners all game long. Sure enough, Saunders wound up loading the bases in the seventh, before he was pulled. Reliever Sam Demel promptly gave up a two-run single to Freddy Sanchez, and that was the ballgame.
Buster Posey homered off Saunders in the first and Sanchez doubled in a run in the sixth.
Saunders, who has always been a reliable if average pitcher, is off to a horrible start this year. He might be better served if the team sent him down to the minors or put him on the disabled list, as he's giving up over two walks and hits per innings pitched -- and they're mostly hits, which means opposing teams are just teeing off on the guy.
The Diamondbacks relief crew pitched the last two innings Saturday without encountering any problems but the damage was done. The offense didn't do much to turn the tide after that, as they went down in order for the last five innings of the game.
Barry Enright wasn't much better on Sunday, getting roughed up for three runs in the sixth while giving up a fourth on an Aubrey Huff homerun in the fourth inning. Esmerling Vásquez, who replaced Kam Mickolio, gave up another run in the sixth. The rest of the bullpen, including JJ Putz, who threw two innings, allowed no runs through the end of the game in the 12th inning.
The Diamondbacks took the first lead of the game when Chris Young hit a sacrifice fly to score Willie Bloomquist in the fourth, and Stephen Drew followed with a triple plating Kelly Johnson and Justin Upton. Upton then homered to deep left center in bottom of fifth.
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Ryan Roberts tied the game in the eighth with a single to left scoring Xavier Nady, which allowed the team to go into extra innings. Stephen Drew drove in Justin Upton in the 12th with a walkoff single to end the game.
Roberts' single was set up by Miguel Montero, who singled to keep the inning alive and send Nady to third base. But that at-bat almost didn't happen. In the top of the sixth inning, Aaron Rowand hit a foul ball that hit catcher Miguel Montero in the groin. After five minutes of hobbling, Montero decided he would stay in the game, and the rest is history.
Correction: This article originally stated the Diamondbacks had yet to win a series after avoiding a sweep. It has been corrected to reflect that the Diamondbacks beat the Cincinnati Reds earlier in the season.