Upton, Scherzer Step-Up in Arizona Diamondbacks' Win Over the San Francisco Giants
Granted, the Arizona Diamondbacks are not a well-oiled machine. We're just not sure why. (Bad coaching? Poor team chemistry? Dodgy bullpen? Take your pick.) But there is one thing we know for certain: Thank goodness for Justin Upton.
In the third, the should-be All-Star selection nailed a solo shot over the right center field fence -- his 12th of the season -- off of San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez to make the score 1-0. Then, with reliever Brandon Medders on the hill in the seventh, Upton's seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield plated a huge insurance run for a 2-0 lead.
Backed by a gutsy performance by Max Scherzer (7 2/3 innings, 3 hits, no runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, and 80 strikes thrown in 116 pitches), the right-hander kept the Giants from crossing home plate. Then, the moment everybody was not waiting for occurred: The bullpen entered the contest.
Chad Qualls came on in the ninth. He retired the first hitter, then first baseman Mark Reynolds dropped a sure out on a throw from third baseman Augie Ojeda. Following a hit by Pablo Sandoval and a Fred Lewis ground out, the tying runners were in scoring position. Qualls then unleashed a wild pitch, scoring Juan Uribe, the man who reached on Reynolds' error.
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However, an announced attendance of 24,389 at Chase Field didn't have to watch the same ol' song and dance as Qualls struck out pinch-hitter Edgar Renteria to earn his 13th save of the season in preserving a 2-1 victory for Arizona.
But back to some bad news.
Facing a wild Sanchez (5 2/3 innings, 3 hits, 1 run earned, 7 walks, a wild pitch, and a hit batter), Arizona continually wasted run-scoring chances by stranding nine through the first six frames. Some of the lowlights included a botched sacrifice by Scherzer - he popped out foul on a first-pitch bunt attempt - and a meaningless pick-off of Reynolds at first base by Giants' catcher Eli Whiteside to end the fifth.
Also, Eric Byrnes furthered his case for AAA demotion. Following a leadoff walk to Ryan Roberts at the game's start, Byrnes swung at the first pitch, flying out weakly to center fielder Aaron Rowland. In the third, Byrnes struck out in a sad-looking AB. Though he did single in the seventh - moving to second on an E9 - and scored on Upton's clutch knock, the once shining-star looks like he would rather be doodling in a sketch book on the bench instead of taking healthy cuts at the plate.
However, Chris Young, another potential player on the minor league-bound list, played his butt off. In the second, he cranked a ground-rule double that went for naught (the D-Backs stranded three runners that frame). Then, in the top of the third, he made a tough play look easy in ranging back toward the center-field wall to rob Fred Lewis of a hit. He also made a circus catch of Nate Schierholtz' deep line drive in the fourth, stole third in the bottom half of that inning, and slapped a hard-hit double to left in the sixth.
The win improved the D-Backs' record to 26-35, while the Giants dropped to 31-28.
Up next: The Houston Astros come to town for a three-game set. Friday's first-pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. Probable starters are Arizona's Dan Haren (4-4, 2.33 ERA) and Houston's Mike Hampton (4-4, 4.65 ERA). TV: FSN-AZ. Radio: KTAR-620 AM. For further information, go to www.dbacks.com.
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