Labor Day Weekend certainly stunk for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The struggling team lost three out of five games to division foes in the National League West, including splitting a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers over the long weekend and lost an extra innings heartbreaker to the San Francisco Giants 8-9 last night.
At this point, the D-backs (66-40) keep falling farther and farther out of contention for the playoffs and are currently 11.5 games out of first place in the division standings. In essence, Arizona was basically treated as stepping stone in the pennant battle taking place between the Dodgers and Giants, both of which trumped the D-backs in close contests.
It's a shame, really, considering that the holiday weekend started out so promising for the Snakes with a pair of wins.
Ian Kennedy pitched a gem against the Dodgers on Thursday night during Arizona's 2-0 win over L.A. He hurled six scoreless innings and fanned seven. Conversely, Clayton Kershaw was also epic on the mound as he K'd nine over six innings. He failed to strike out Chris Young in the top of the fourth inning, however, and quickly regretted it as Young walloped a two-run homer to left at Dodgers Stadium that scored Miguel Montero.
Friday's game with L.A. was more of a nail-biter as the Diamondbacks grappled with the Boys in Blue into extra-innings. Arizona carried an early 3-0 lead through the middle of the game after Chris Johnson's triple in the second inning scored Montero and RBI swats from Trevor Cahill and Aaron Hill in the top of the fifth added two more runs.
The Dodgers rallied back in the bottom of the inning as Mark Ellis nailed a grounder to left field to plate a pair of runners. Andre Ethier then singled to score Matt Kemp and tie the game at 3-3. Jason Kubel won the battle for the D-backs, however, with his 11th inning homer off reliever Brandon League.
Turnabout was fair play on Saturday when the Diamondbacks watched on as L.A. broke a tie during the game when Ethier slammed a 398-foot moonshot for the deciding run for a 2-1 win over Arizona. El Lay starter Josh Beckett -- who came to the Dodgers in a blockbuster trade with the Red Sox last month -- was stunning on the mound, striking out nine and giving up only a single homer to Justin Upton. Tyler Skaggs also allowed only a single run, but only fanned three in his five innings.
The D-backs were once again the victims of a one-run defeat on Sunday during the 5-4 loss that capped off their four-game series with the Dodgers. Arizona bounced back from a homer by Kemp in the second inning and were leading 3-1 through five innings thanks two homers by Montero and John McDonald.
El Lay staged a comeback of their own with RBIs by Ethier and Shane Victorino in the sixth and seventh. With the game knotted at three runs apiece in the bottom of the ninth (natch), D-backs closer J.J. Putz pulled a boner by allowing a walkoff RBI double by Adrian Gonzalez, blowing the potential save and handing the Dodgers a much-needed win.
San Francisco apparently also needed a win under their belts quite badly in order to keep their lead on Los Angeles, which explains why they celebrated their 9-8 extra innings defeat of Arizona on Monday night in the same sort of raucous fashion normally associated with a pennant-clinching victory.
It was an up-and-down game for both the Giants and D-backs as San Fran built a 4-0 lead in the first frame off regrettable pitches thrown by Patrick Corbin, including a double by Buster Posey and a triple from Hunter Pence. The hits came coming as the Snakes started a rally in the fifth with a two-run jack by Johnson. The next inning offered plenty of action and the Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito helped keep the ball rolling in Arizona's favor.
He allowed singles from Upton and Kubel before getting yanked by S.F. manager Bruce Bochy. Reliever Guillermo Mota, however, didn't come close to getting out of the jam that Zito had created, as Paul Goldschmidt's ground rule double brought in a run and Johnson's sacrifice fly scored Kubel for another.
Although Mota then proceeded to walk Cody Ransom, he probably should've saved the base-on-balls treatment for Willie Bloomquist, who swatted a single to left for an additional run. George Kontos came in from the bullpen and finally brought the inning to a close, but not before back-to-back RBI singles from Young and Hill. Arizona was up 7-4.
The seesaw kept tipping back and forth between the two teams where Pablo Sandoval added a run for the Jints in the seventh with a single only to have Upton do the same in the following frame. San Fran notched three more runs in the eighth and ninth to send the game into extra innings. Marco Scutaro finally brought the epic game -- which featured a total of 30 hits and 17 runs, not to mention 13 different pitchers -- when Marco Scutaro nailed a walkoff hit in the tenth via a Bryan Shaw fastball.
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It basically came down to a battle of the bullpen during last night's game and S.F. had a bigger and more-talented reserve pitching roster that outmatched the likes of the D-backs lineup of David Hernandez, Matt Albers, Brad Ziegler, and Putz.
Arizona will attempt to drawn even in their three-game series with the Giants tonight when Kennedy (12-11, 4.27 ERA) goes up against Ryan Vogelsong (12-7, 3.02). First pitch is at 7:15. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. More info: www.dbacks.com.