D-Backs Don't Sweep; Sit Pretty
Chris Young (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)
Senior Editor
Posted Sep 24, 2007


The Arizona Diamondbacks played ugly in their final game against the Dodgers, but still appear poised to capture the NL West title.

INSIDE PITCH

It's getting close now, and the Diamondbacks can smell it. They have a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League West and they have six games left to play as they close out the regular season at Pittsburgh and Colorado.

They get a day off on Tuesday to think about their situation and how they can put the finishing touches on what has been a surprising, wild turn of events for a young team not expected by most to contend for a division title this soon.

But it can easily become a reality and it starts in Pittsburgh on Tuesday against a Pirates team that has lost nine games in a row.

"Each one gets more and more important," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "The finish line is certainly in sight. We don't want to look at the finish line, but we're going into Pittsburgh and hopefully, we can do some damage there."

If the Padres keep losing, like they did on Sunday to the Rockies, Arizona's grip on the division will become a lock.

"Whoever said they're not watching the scoreboard is probably lying to you," center fielder Chris Young said.

DODGERS 7, DIAMONDBACKS 1: The Diamondbacks couldn't pull off a three-game sweep on the visiting Dodgers, but they closed out their regular-season home schedule with a 50-31 mark at Chase Field and enter Monday's off-day still holding a 2 1/2-game lead over the second-place San Diego Padres in the National League West.

Arizona has six games remaining -- three at Pittsburgh and three at Colorado -- and the magic number to clinch the division is five.

On Sunday, Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley held the Diamondbacks to one run and five hits through 5 2/3 innings and Los Angeles got four hits from Juan Pierre and three more from James Loney, including a two-run home run.

"We won two out of three, though, and that's always the goal," manager Bob Melvin said.

The Diamondbacks' 51 wins at home is the third-most in the club's 10-year history. They won 55 games in 2002 and 52 in 1999, winning the division both times.

NOTES, QUOTES

--LHP Doug Davis will start Tuesday's series opener at Pittsburgh and, after a couple of days' deliberation, manager Bob Melvin said RHPs Livan Hernandez and Brandon Webb would follow in turn on their regular days' rest. He waited to make the announcement about Hernandez and Webb until Sunday to make sure the latter didn't need an extra day off. "Whenever we run those guys out there, we feel pretty good," Melvin said.

--RHP Micah Owings' turn in the rotation will be skipped for the second time in his last three runs through the rotation, which included Owings throwing a two-hit, complete-game shutout against the Giants last Tuesday. He likely will pitch next weekend in Colorado.

--CF Chris Young entered the week having hit a home run nine times to lead off the first inning.

--Manager Bob Melvin on his team, which is closing in on winning the National League West: I've kind of refrained from saying it, but what these guys have accomplished this year has been nothing short of spectacular. We've got a ways to go here, but... it's been pretty spectacular to see."

--Arizona wrapped up its regular-season home schedule having drawn 2,325,233 fans -- the Diamondbacks' highest attendance since 2004.

--RHP Edgar Gonzalez developed a blister on his index finger while warming up in the bullpen and it got worse during Sunday's start. He allowed three runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings against the Dodgers.

BY THE NUMBERS: .000 -- The Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra's career batting average against Diamondbacks RHP Brandon Webb after their final meeting of the season Saturday (Sept. 22). Garciaparra was 0-for-17 against Webb.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "At this point, it would be a very disappointing year if it didn't happen. With the way we've played and everything like that, it would be a waste of a good year. Hopefully, that's not going to be the case." -- RHP Brandon Lyon, on the Diamondbacks' pursuit of a playoff spot.


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