D-backs cut magic number to 2 with 8-5 win
PHOENIX (AP)—Becoming NL West champions has been a notion off in the distance for the Arizona Diamondbacks for weeks, something plausible, yet still just out of reach.
Now that it’s closer to becoming a reality, the Diamondbacks are ready to snatch it up.
Aggressive on the basepaths and with their bats, the Diamondbacks jumped on the Pittsburgh Pirates early in an 8-5 win on Wednesday that cut their magic number for clinching the division to two.
A day after stranding 11 runners in a loss to Pittsburgh, the Diamondbacks put pressure on the Pirates from the start, setting a team record with four stolen bases while scoring three runs off Russ Ohlendorf (1-3) in the first inning.
Miguel Montero(notes) hit a homer for the first his three hits in the inning and Arizona tacked on five more runs in the third with two-run hits by Aaron Hill(notes) and Ryan Roberts(notes) to finish with 11 hits.
Now, with 90 wins after a pair of 90-loss seasons, Arizona is on the brink of closing out the Giants, who played the Dodgers later Wednesday. The Diamondbacks get a day off on Thursday before opening a three-game series at home against San Francisco on Friday.
“We can’t celebrate until happens,” said Chris Young, who had two hits and drove in a run in a five-run third inning. “I’m sure a few guys will be watching the Giants tonight and tomorrow, but if we can come into the Giants’ series ready and playing good baseball, we should be able to do this.”
Pittsburgh didn’t go quietly despite the big early hole.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle used 15 different position players and six pitchers, and his team did manage to chip away at the lead in the later innings. But Pittsburgh, like it has most of the second half of the season, came up just short, losing for the 10th time in 14 games.
“The attitude and the effort has been there all year,” Hurdle said. “They are playing the game to win, whether it is September 21st all April 21st that hasn’t changed. The execution has been problematic the last 50 games.”
Arizona lost to Pittsburgh 5-3 Tuesday night, thanks to ineffective hitting with runners on and several defensive gems by the Pirates, but still moved closer to its first division title since 2007 with San Francisco’s loss to the Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks went right at the Pirates in the series finale, pulling off two double steals in the opening inning. Justin Upton(notes) had a sacrifice fly to drive in one run and Montero added two more with his 18th homer to right.
Arizona piled it on the third, chasing Ohlendorf after three straight singles—Young’s drove a run—and a walk. Roberts followed with a two-run double to the corner in left off Jared Hughes(notes), who then issued a four-pitch walk to Miley, a .083 hitter. Hill made it 8-1 with a two-run single to left after fighting off several good pitches.
Ohlendorf allowed seven runs on seven hits in two-plus innings.
“I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand real good and I made good pitches, and they took good swings,” said Ohlendorf said. “I had a really good approach and I didn’t make enough good pitches.”
Miley wasn’t particularly sharp, but plenty good enough with the support his teammates provided.
The left-hander worked through plenty of traffic, giving up Ludwick’s solo homer in the second inning and an RBI single to Lee in the fourth. Miley was lifted for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning after allowing two runs on five hits.
The Diamondbacks had some nice defensive plays to help the effort, including Hill’s shovel throw from second to get Alex Presley(notes) in the third inning and first baseman Lyle Overbay’s(notes) over-the-rail grab on Matt Pagnozzi’s(notes) foul pop in the sixth.
“We’ve just got keep pushing, keep winning ball games and seal the deal,” Miley said.
Another game or two like this and they will.
NOTES: Montero has an 11-game hitting streak at home. … Arizona gets Thursday off before starting its series against the Giants. Rookie RHP Josh Collmenter(notes) will start for the Diamondbacks after allowing three runs in seven innings of a 3-1 loss to San Diego his last outing. … Pittsburgh heads home to play Cincinnati with RHP Edinson Volquez(notes) facing Reds LHP Jeff Locke(notes). Volquez will be making his third start in the majors after losing his first two outings with a 6.75 ERA.