One single out. Just three little strikes.
That's all the Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen -- or more specifically, Tony Peña -- needed to protect a four-run lead with two away in the bottom of the eighth versus the Los Angeles Dodgers last night. But instead of landing that lone K (or generating any kind of an out) to end the inning, the Venezuelan right-hander walked in a run with the bases loaded, kicking off a come-from-behind 6-5 victory by the Blue Crew at Chavez Ravine.
If it seems like you've heard this song before, you have, as it's nearly what happened during Monday's match-up against El Lay, when Peña almost blew a save in the ninth. This time around, however, he didn't have Gerardo Parra's clutch outfield work to save his keester and ultimately the game.
If you're wondering why manager A.J. Hinch continues to go with his obviously exhausted reliever (who tossed 24 pitches the night before), it's because Hinch's options are extremely limited. Closer Chad Qualls' arm is still on the mend, and the D-Backs bullpen is filled with greenhorns. To wit: Peña was replaced by recent Arizona Wildcats grad Daniel Schlereth, who did little to validate the decision to call him up from the minor-league Mobile BayBears. After allowing a bases-clearing double by James Loney (scoring Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre, and Orlando Hudson), the wet-behind-the-ears southpaw hurled a few wild pitches and capped things off with another run for good measure. Awesome.
It's a shame, really, considering the amazing performances that Dan Haren and Justin Upton supplied yesterday. Other than giving up a solo homer to Andre Ethier, the D-Backs' resident ace filled the scoreboard with more zeroes than a speed-dating event, striking out seven in as many innings. Upton was equally as spectacular, bashing a two-out grand slam (his first ever) in the second.
"I have a feeling that 21-year-old young man is gonna have a few more," remarked Fox Sports Arizona color commentator Mark Grace.
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The rest of Arizona's starting lineup was productive, as well: Felipe Lopez and Ryan Roberts each had a pair of singles, Mark Reynolds nailed an RBI, with Eric Byrnes and Chris Young provided hits.
Fingers are crossed that Upton and the Snakes' bats remain just as hot during tonight's series-deciding game, which starts at 7:10. Jon Garland (4-4, 5.75 ERA) will go against the Dodgers' Chad Billingsley (6-3, 2.80).
TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620 (English), KSUN-AM 1400 (en Español). For more info, visit www.dbacks.com.