D'Backs Break Skid, Take 2 of 3 from Phils

After a disastrous four-game sweep by the Mets, the Arizona Diamondbacks entered a three-game weekend series with the Wild Card leading Philadelphia Phillies.  Going into the series, the D'Backs were tied for second-place in the NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers at 6.5 games behind the San Diego Padres.  With the offense lacking and the bullpen collapsing, odds were against the Snakes.

But this time, Lady Luck smiled down on the Diamondbacks.

Despite an 11-3 loss on Friday night, the D'Backs gathered their strength and beat Philadelphia 2-0 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday.  In doing so, they kept pace with the Dodgers, who took two of three from the Houston Astros.  Arizona also picked up a game on the Padres, who lost two of three to the Colorado Rockies.

On Friday night, Arizona's Brad Halsey faced Brett Myers.  Although Myers was chased after giving up three runs in four innings, the D'Backs managed only four hits off of him.  Their next (and last) hit of the game would not come until the bottom of the seventh inning.  Halsey gave up four runs off four hits in 6.1 innings, including two solo homers by Chase Utley.  The bullpen again disintegrated, giving up seven runs off seven hits, including a home run, while striking out only two, leading to an 11-3 loss for Arizona.

The loss was a popular topic of conversation, especially due to another poor performance by the relief pitchers.  Todd Worrell, a Phillie prior to joining Arizona on July 21, gave up a grand slam to Bobby Abreu, who was formerly -0-5 when facing him.  Worrell later expressed that a batter's statistics against a particular pitcher do not guarantee outs. ``I just fell behind and made a pitch up and over the plate. That doesn't mean I don't get him tomorrow, and just because he was 0-for-5 doesn't mean he's going to be 0-for-6, so I don't buy into that stuff, I guess. So it's just a different story if I make my pitch,'' Worrell informed the Associated Press.

The Diamondbacks, entering Saturday's game with six straight losses, put Brandon Webb on the mound against Jon Lieber on Saturday.  After more than six innings of scoreless play, Alex Cintron hit a home run with two out and Chad Tracy on third base, accounting for the only runs of the game.  Webb pitched seven shutout innings, giving up only five hits and four walks while striking out six.  The shaky bullpen managed to seal the victory for Webb, allowing just two walks and striking out three.  Jose Valverde earned his fifth save after pitching 1.2 innings.  The game proved to be a major morale boost for the struggling D'Backs after losing eleven of their thirteen games prior to Saturday.  Webb confirmed the importance of the win, regardless of the final score. ``It's just a game that we needed to win just to get off this streak we've been in. No matter how we won it, 10-9, whatever, we just really needed to win a ballgame,'' he explained to AP.

On Sunday, Claudia Vargas pitched for Arizona against Vincente Padilla.  Vargas was staked to a 6-2 lead after the third inning, thanks to a grand slam by Shawn Green in his first game back since the birth of his daughter on Friday.  After a miserable outing on Tuesday, in which he gave up eight runs in five innings, Vargas faced more trouble on Sunday and finally left after giving up two more runs in the top of the seventh.  But Arizona had another four-run rally in the bottom of that inning and, aided by the second-consecutive masterful performance from the bullpen, went on to win 10-5.

The Diamondbacks go out on the road for three games against San Diego before returning home for three against the San Francisco Giants.  They will then go on another road trip, making three-game stops in both Pittsburgh and Colorado.

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