The Arizona Diamondbacks don’t have any answers for their struggling bullpen. They had better find some soon if they want to move back atop the NL West.
The Diamondbacks look for a better showing from their relievers when they continue a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies on Saturday at Chase Field.
Arizona (75-61) fell a percentage point behind the San Diego Padres in the division on Friday following a 7-3, 10-inning defeat to the Rockies (69-65). The Diamondbacks have lost four of their last five games and eight of their last 12.
Over the last three contests, their bullpen has allowed 13 runs—nine earned—and 19 hits through 6 1-3 innings. Starter Livan Hernandez threw seven scoreless innings on Friday before the relievers gave up all seven runs and eight hits.
“That’s baseball,” said Diamondbacks closer Jose Valverde, who blew his seventh save of the season by allowing the tying run in the ninth. “On television they say the bullpen is struggling. Check the bullpens of other teams. They’re struggling, too. What are you going to do?”
Arizona’s Miguel Montero hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to break open the scoreless game, but Colorado’s Cory Sullivan answered with a two-run single in the eighth, and eventually scored the go-ahead run on a 10th-inning error by reliever Tony Pena.
Colorado, which is five games behind San Diego in the division, has won five of its last seven games, outscoring opponents 38-21.
Dana Eveland (0-0, 20.25 ERA) will have the task of trying to slow down the Rockies’ lineup after being called up from Triple-A Tucson to make his first start for the Diamondbacks this season.
The left-hander made two relief appearances for Arizona in April and was then sidelined for about three months with a partial tear of the tendon sheath on his throwing hand. Eveland has given up just one run in 10 innings over two starts at Tucson since returning from the injury.
“He’s pitched very well in the minor leagues and all year,” manager Bob Melvin told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “He had the injury, but he’s come back…The trick for him is to do it up here at the big league level, and he certainly has the stuff to do it.”
Eveland recorded two outs and gave up two hits in his only relief appearance versus the Rockies on Aug. 17, 2005, while with Milwaukee.
Elmer Dessens (2-1, 5.64) makes his fourth start for Colorado since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Aug. 16. The right-hander is coming off a strong performance on Sunday when he held Washington to one run and three hits over six innings in a 10-5 win.
Dessens gave up a run in the first inning, but retired 15 of the next 17 batters, including the final 10 he faced.
“I felt pretty good after the first inning, and then we came out and got some runs,” said Dessens, who began the season as a reliever for Milwaukee. “I relaxed and kept my pitching count down.”
The 36-year-old veteran recorded his first win as a starter since April 25, 2004, while with Arizona. He spent parts of two seasons with the Diamondbacks from 2003-04, going 9-14 with a 4.97 ERA in 72 games, including 39 starts.
Dessens is 1-0 with a 3.15 ERA in 10 career games, including five starts, versus his former team.
Colorado is expected to activate center fielder Willy Taveras off the disabled list on Saturday. Taveras has been sidelined since Aug. 15 with a strained right groin.
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