With just 19 games remaining and a 1 1/2-game deficit in the NL West, the Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t ready to panic just yet.
After falling below .500 for the first time in over a month, Arizona looks to avoid a fifth straight loss Tuesday when they continue a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants.
The slumping Diamondbacks (71-72) remained 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday despite losing 6-2 to the Giants (63-80). The Dodgers also lost, snapping an eight-game winning streak.
“We have struggled the last two weeks, but nobody has broken away,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s still up for grabs.”
Yusmeiro Petit lasted only 2 2-3 innings, allowing five runs and eight hits against San Francisco on Monday. The Diamondbacks were shut out by Tim Lincecum until the ninth inning when pinch-hitter Jamie D’Antona drove in their first run.
“We didn’t have too many opportunities tonight and we haven’t been scoring a lot of runs anyway lately,” Melvin said. “When you get those opportunities, you have to bring your best at-bats.”
Arizona has lost 11 of its last 14 and it’s winless in the first four games of this six-game road trip. It’s been outscored 25-7 during the trip, and is below .500 for the first time since July 23. The Diamondbacks, who haven’t lost five in a row since the end of May, won seven of their next eight after that skid to take a three-game lead in the division on Aug. 1.
Their eight-game road losing streak includes seven straight losses to NL West foes. The Diamondbacks won 17 of their first 24 road division games before this slide.
To rebound from their slump, along with getting their bats to heat up, the Diamondbacks need stronger starting pitching. Including Petit’s outing on Monday, the starters are responsible for three of the losses on this road trip and have a 10.38 ERA. Only Cy Young Award candidate Brandon Webb has pitched beyond the fifth inning.
The Diamondbacks try to get a better outing from a starter Tuesday when they hand the ball to Doug Davis (6-8, 4.58 ERA).
Davis pitched six innings on Wednesday against St. Louis, allowing three runs and eight hits in a 4-3 win, but did not get a decision.
The left-hander is 3-5 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts and one relief appearance against the Giants. On May 28, he allowed six runs over five innings of an 11-3 home loss to San Francisco.
Barry Zito (9-16, 5.45), who leads the majors in losses, counters for the Giants. He won for the third time in four starts Wednesday against Colorado, allowing two runs in eight innings in a 9-2 win.
Zito, though, has struggled at home, going 3-10 with a 6.57 ERA. The southpaw is 0-3 with a 7.40 ERA in four outings against Arizona this season.
The Giants have won three straight, scoring 24 runs in that span. Bengie Molina hit a three-run homer during a five-run third inning on Monday. The catcher is hitting .429 (9-for-21) in six games this month.
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