Diamondbacks Keep Dodgers at Arms Length
Gonzalez tosses a gem (Mario Jose Sanchez/AP)
Gonzalez tosses a gem (Mario Jose Sanchez/AP)

Posted Sep 17, 2007


The Arizona Diamondbacks avoided a series sweep by the Los Angeles Dodgers by winning Sunday 6-1. They are now in the driver's seat for the final dozen games of the season, although three more come against these very same Dodgers.

INSIDE PITCH

The Diamondbacks have 12 regular-season games left that ultimately will determine their postseason fate and whether they can maintain their grip on first place in the National League West Division.

But the feeling around the team was that a loss on Sunday to the Los Angeles Dodgers -- which would have meant an L.A. sweep -- would have been disastrous and perhaps would have even begun a complete unraveling of the club and its hopes down the stretch.

After their 6-1 victory over the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks were glad they didn't have to discuss it, but the game was about as "must-win" as possible.

"I don't think much about how we're positioned," manager Bob Melvin said. "We've got six at home -- we've played well at home -- then we go on the road for six. We'll take them all individually.

"Obviously, when you get down to a number where there's light at the end of the tunnel, everybody starts doing math and so forth. It's easy to do. But our focus is going to continue to be game-to-game." Still, it would have been a lot tougher to feel that way after a three-game sweep.

"We needed that win," said catcher Chris Snyder, who hit a three-run homer in Sunday's victory. "Especially at this time. You've got to avoid the sweep at all costs. We did that today. It was big."

Eric Byrnes, who had called Sunday's game as close to a must-win situation as the Diamondbacks have faced all season, was reluctant to call it that after the victory.

"Was it a must-win? No," he said. "We could have lost this game and still been in first place. But to be able to take this from the Dodgers, and finish the road trip .500 and go back home -- this was a really big win for us."

DIAMONDBACKS 6, DODGERS 1: Arizona salvaged the finale of its three-game series at Dodger Stadium, getting a three-run home run by catcher Chris Snyder and a strong outing by its newest No. 5 pitcher, Edgar Gonzalez, to maintain a two-game lead over the Padres atop the National League West.

"This was as close to a must-win game as we've had all year," Diamondbacks left fielder Eric Byrnes said.

The Diamondbacks lost the first two games of the series and now return to Chase Field for their final six home games of the regular season, against the Giants and Dodgers.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Edgar Gonzalez, who was making his first start since late June, won his seventh straight decision in allowing one earned run over five innings. He improved to 8-2 on the year.

"He pitched great," manager Bob Melvin said. "That's all we could ask for. You look at his record; it's pretty indicative of how he's pitched for us. He's been an invaluable piece."

--3B Chad Tracy was activated from the disabled list, and although he still is having problems with his sore right knee and likely will be used strictly as a pinch hitter for now.  He collected a pinch-hit RBI on Sunday against the Dodgers with a sixth-inning single.

--Manager Bob Melvin wouldn't say how Thursday's off-day would affect the starting pitching rotation, although RHP Brandon Webb could come back on four days' rest to face the Dodgers' on Friday.

"We'll just see how we get through the next three leading to it," Melvin said of a three-game set at home against San Francisco that begins on Monday. Webb is to start the opener and will be looking for a career-high 17th win.

--RHP Juan Cruz, who has pitched well in relief, ranks third in the majors with a 12.27 strikeouts per nine innings average, having fanned 75 batters in 55 innings.

--The Diamondbacks were hitting .248 through 149 games, last in the National League.

--The Diamondbacks had hit 12 pinch-hit home runs through the weekend, the most of any club in the majors.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Earned runs allowed by LHP Doug Davis against the Dodgers on Sept. 14 after he had gone 3-0 against them in his four previous career starts, allowing no earned runs over 30 innings pitched.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can't say I expected 30 (home runs); I didn't. Especially your first major league season. The last three years in the minors I had (20) home runs a year, but the big leagues are a different level. I would have been happy if I had 10, honestly." -- Rookie center fielder Chris Young.


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