Fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks can breathe a little easier today as the team managed to extend their lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West standings after beating the Washington Nationals 4-2 last night in D.C.
The Snakes are now two games in front of the Jints in the race for the division pennant following the win, which came after D-Backs ace Daniel Hudson came achingly close to shutting out the Nats from the mound. The starting pitcher was fantastic as he scattered nine hits, struck out six, and didn't walk a single batter in close to nine innings of work.
Hudson was only one out away from pitching a complete game and earning a shutout victory when Washington outfielders Jonny Gomes and Laynce Nix had to ruin things with back-to-back homers in the ninth inning. Jerks.
Closing pitcher J.J. Putz emerged from the bullpen to get the save by via a foul out by Wilson Ramos to earn his 32nd save of the season. It probably broke skipper Kirk Gibson's heart to pull his starter, but giving up two homers is nothing to take lightly. Especially since it chopped his team's four-run lead in half within minutes (plus the fact that runs seems to be scarcer these days thanks to the under-performing D-Backs' offense.)
"I wanted him to finish it out, but he gave up back-to-back home runs. J.J.'s done a great job in that role. It was a no-brainer," Gibson told the media in post-game interviews.
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Arizona scored twice in the fourth inning after a Chris Young's RBI double (and a timely fielding error by the Nats) plated Justin Upton. Lyle Overbay then generated another ribeye with a single to left to score Young. Miguel Montero also added a couple of insurance runs in the eighth with an RBI single of his own.
Meanwhile, former Toronto Blue Jays baseballers Aaron Hill and John McDonald made their D-Backs debut during the game. While both players failed to perform in the batter's box, McDonalds pulled off some nice fielding work in the eighth inning to get Ryan Zimmerman out at first and protected Arizona's lead.
The Diamondbacks (71-59) can win the four-game series against Washington (62-66) with a victory later today. Rookie left-hander Wade Miley (0-1, 11.25 ERA) will take the mound against John Lannan (8-9, 3.61 ERA). First pitch is at 4:05 p.m. local time. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. For more information, visit www.dbacks.com.