PITTSBURGH (AP)—Watching Tony Clark take a key at-bat in a pivotal situation after 13 years in the majors helped the much less-experienced Carlos Quentin do the same thing an inning later. The result was one of the best comebacks in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ brief history.
The slumping Quentin’s two-run single in the eighth inning finished off Arizona’s franchise record-tying rally, and the Diamondbacks came from six runs down for a 9-8 victory Saturday night.
Clark’s pinch-hit grand slam in a five-run the seventh tied it for Arizona, which trailed 7-1 in the third and was down by five runs when Pirates starter Tom Gorzelanny left after six innings with a seemingly safe lead.
“It’s awesome to come from behind like that and win a game,” said Mark Reynolds, who homered and had three hits in his only fourth career game.
Clark, in his 1,333th game, had arguably the Diamondbacks’ biggest hit of the season to put them in position to win. After Pirates reliever Marty McLeary got ahead in the count 1-2 by throwing two fastballs by him, Clark adjusted, worked the count full, then hit another fastball down into the right-field seats.
“It was a situation where the guys put together a rally, and I’m simply trying to put the bat on the ball and keep the line moving,” Clark said of his ninth career pinch-hit homer. “I wasn’t trying to do anything extra special. I was fortunate enough to get the count to where, obviously, he doesn’t want to want to walk a run in.”
That McLeary, mostly a mop-up pitcher, was on the mound was a debatable move. Manager Jim Tracy probably could have kept Clark on the bench by bringing in left-hander Damaso Marte, because all six of Clark’s homers have come hitting left-handed. But Tracy, whose pitchers walked six, didn’t like that Marte worked behind in the count while pitching Friday.
“I’ve got to be able to come in there and get that out,” said McLeary, who has yielded four homers in 7 2-3 relief innings. “The fastball was getting by him and …”
Matt Capps (2-2), normally the Pirates’ most effective reliever, took his second loss in their last four games. He got into immediate trouble when Stephen Drew and Jackson singled in the eighth. Tracy chose to walk Eric Byrnes to intentionally load the bases one batter ahead of the two-run single by Quentin, who was in a 2-for-28 slump.
“It feels great to get a hit in that situation,” Quentin said. “But you can’t say enough about Tony Clark hitting that homer. That was unreal. That was unbelievable.”
Manager Bob Melvin thinks Quentin, who has less than a full year in the majors, went to the plate confident and ready to hit partly because of that Clark homer.
“It’s a game of confidence, baseball, and it can turn on a dime,” Melvin said. “You can get one key hit and now you’re contributing to a big win like that.”
The Diamondbacks, averaging 2.9 runs while previously going 6-10 this month, had only two previous six-run comebacks in their 10-season history—on May 2, 2006, against the Dodgers and Sept. 15, 1998, against the Giants.
“That was a brutal one to have to lose,” Tracy said. “But we asked for it, because we didn’t pitch well at all in that seventh inning. We didn’t throw any strikes.”
Arizona’s five relievers limited Pittsburgh to one run after starter Micah Owings left following 2 2-3 wild innings, with Doug Slaten (1-0) getting his first career victory with a scoreless seventh. The first three relievers used by Tracy gave up seven runs, starting with Conor Jackson’s homer leading off the seventh against John Grabow.
Arizona’s Jose Valverde finished up in the ninth, throwing only four pitches for his 15th save.
Gorzelanny, trying to win his sixth, held Arizona to two runs during another effective start. He also helped himself during the Pirates’ biggest inning of the season with a two-run single that helped them to a 7-1 lead during a six-run third.
Gorzelanny was 1-for-38 (.026) in his career—with his only hit coming in his previous start—until he grounded a single into right field during a six-run third. Earlier in the inning, Owings walked three in a row, two forcing in runs, during his first start since May 8.
Clark’s pinch-hit homer was his second this season. The grand slam was his third and his first since 2001 … Despite daylong forecasts of pleasant weather, a steady rain began falling in the early innings and picked up in the later innings. … The five-run inning was Arizona’s biggest this season. … Orlando Hudson, Arizona’s Gold Glove 2B, made an exceptional catch of Nate McLouth’s popup leading off the Pirates’ first—racing with his back to the infield to run the ball down halfway down the RF line.