Behind Young’s 2 homers, Diamondbacks beat Cubs 5-4 to take showdown of division leaders
PHOENIX (AP)—The Arizona Diamondbacks are in first place despite giving up 32 more runs than they’ve scored.
For clues to how the Diamondbacks have done it, see their 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday afternoon.
Arizona spotted the Cubs a 3-0 first-inning lead, rallied behind two Chris Young home runs and then hung on with three superb fielding plays in the late innings.
The Diamondbacks improved to a major-league best 29-16 in one-run games and won the three-game series between NL division leaders. Arizona extended its lead to three games over San Diego in the NL West on the eve of a four-game series with the Padres in Petco Park.
“That game, the way we won today, embodies how we play all year,” manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s the way we have to win. We need contributions from a lot of people.”
But no one made a bigger contribution than Young, who homered in the first and second innings and drove in four runs.
Young sparked a rally after a sloppy first inning, when Conor Jackson’s fielding error and Stephen Drew’s throwing error helped spot the Cubs a quick 2-0 lead. Cliff Floyd made it 3-0 with a 389-foot homer into the right field seats, his fifth.
Young greeted Jason Marquis (10-8) with his 27th home run, and eighth leading off a game.
“Inside, I really do want to do something,” Young said. “Not necessarily hit a home run, but I really want to do something to try to turn the momentum around.”
An inning later, Young hit a three-run shot to left to put the Diamondbacks up 5-3.
It was the fifth career multihomer game for Young. He had four hits—all homers—on the six-game homestand that ended Sunday.
The Cubs pulled within 5-4 in the third with a little help from Chase Field’s distinct construction.
Derrek Lee hit a drive off an 18-foot-high railing that juts over center field. The ball caromed some 40 yards behind the center fielder Young, and by the time left fielder Eric Byrnes fielded the ball, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Lee was chugging into third. Third base coach Mike Quade waved him home, and Lee easily beat the relay throw.
“I was just running as hard as I could,” Lee said. “I saw it take the big kick. I just took my eyes off the ball and started watching the third base coach, and I wasn’t going to stop. He was waving me the whole way, so I figured if I can’t hit them out, I’ll get an inside-the-parker.”
It was Lee’s second career inside-the-park homer. The first came on April 12, 2003, for Florida against Marquis, then with Atlanta.
The Diamondbacks wouldn’t score again. But with a trio of fine plays in the field, they didn’t need to.
Two more critical plays came in a wild ninth inning, as closer Jose Valverde tried to nail down his major-league leading 40th save in 46 chances.
With runners on first and second and no outs, Valverde struck out Jason Kendall, who had botched two bunt attempts, and catcher Chris Snyder threw out Mike Fontenot trying to steal third. Backup third baseman Jeff Cirillo short-hopped the throw and tagged out Fontenot.
“We had some speed on the bases, so we took a chance,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
Kendall, who has one sacrifice bunt in 32 games, took responsibility for failing to get down a bunt. “I lost us that game right there,” he said.
After Valverde walked another batter, Jones hit a hard grounder between first and second. First baseman Tony Clark made a diving stop and tossed to Valverde at first to end the game. Valverde pumped his fists and shouted in celebration.
“You know when you come in late in the ballgame, the ball’s going to find you,” said Clark, who came on in the eighth.
Despite dropping two out of three in the desert, the Cubs left town with a bigger lead in the NL Central—1 1/2 games—than when they arrived. Chicago opens a three-game series against second-place Milwaukee at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, and Piniella said his hitters need to start producing.
“We’ve got to start scoring more runs, that’s really the bottom line,” Piniella said. “You can’t expect our pitching to go out there and give up one or two every time we play.”
Cubs CF Jones saved a run in the third with a diving catch of Snyder’s liner into the right-center gap. … Byrnes stole his 36th and 37th bases. … Arizona RHP Micah Owings, who is hitting .276 with 4 homers, pinch-hit for the third time this year. He bunted into a fielder’s choice.