Diamondbacks Can't Hit in the Clutch

Diamondbacks Can't Hit in the Clutch

How are the Diamondbacks winning games? They have allowed more runs than they have scored this year, and have not been hitting well in clutch situations. Tim Lincecum destroyed Micah Owings in a battle of future stars Sunday, and if Arizona doesn't play better soon, they could be battling those Giants for the NL West cellar.

INSIDE PITCH

As soon as the starting rotation began to show some warts for the first time all season, so did the club's offense in critical situations. Somehow, both recent flaws have failed to sink the Diamondbacks, but if they don't get it straightened out soon, there definitely could be some gloom and doom on the horizon.

The most troubling aspect has been the club's batting average with runners in scoring position. Since June 5, they were hitting just .175 in those situations and yet surprisingly went 12-11 during that span.

"We're in a funk as far as that goes," manager Bob Melvin said. "You've got to get some big hits to win games, especially against good pitching. ... We just have to be better as far as our timing goes."

One player who has been delivering, yet still has underperformed all season, is outfielder Carlos Quentin. He entered the week still struggling to find his groove, hitting just .220, but has managed to drive in runs lately when batters ahead of him get on base.

"The thing that's really amazing is the amount of success he's had with men in scoring position, getting in men from third with less than two out," Diamondbacks hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said. "He can throw up an excellent at-bat every single time. We talked about taking that mind-set into every at-bat instead of just when it really matters with runners on."

Quentin opened the season on the disabled list after it was learned he had a small labrum tear in his shoulder.

"I think it set him back quite a bit," Seitzer said. "He went out for a few days and then came back and got off to a slow start. Started questioning, doubting, worrying, pressing, trying to do too much. He's just been struggling. He's been having a hard time with his pitch selection, swinging at a lot of pitches that are out of the zone. Getting himself in the hole and putting balls into play that aren't necessarily good pitches to drive.

"It's not that he's trying to swing at the first thing that's thrown. He's always been an aggressive, early-count swinger and at this level pitchers can throw pitches that look like good pitches to hit that aren't actually good pitches to hit. We keep working, keep talking.

"The one thing in this game is sometimes when you try too hard it makes it worst. It's a game where you have to try easy, stay controlled, stay aggressive, stay disciplined. Sometimes it's easier said than done to execute all of that."

GIANTS 13, D-BACKS 0: San Francisco roughed up rookie right-hander Micah Owings to the tune of seven runs and eight hits, forcing him out of the game after just four innings in a game in which he was clearly outpitched by another rookie, Tim Lincecum. Lincecum (3-2) struck out 12 batters, the most by a Giants rookie in 32 years, and Barry Bonds added his 2,900th career hit and 377th double, moving him past his godfather, Willie Mays, and into sole possession of first place on the Giants' all-time list.

Lincecum pitched seven scoreless innings and the Giants got four RBIs from Ryan Klesko and a three-run homer from Bengie Molina. The rout enabled the Giants to take the three-game series, two games to one, as Arizona moves on to St. Louis for the start of a four-game series on Monday.

NOTES, QUOTES

--2B Orlando Hudson and RHP Jose Valverde were named to the National League All-Star team, Hudson by a vote from the players and Valverde, Arizona's closer, by NL All-Star manager Tony La Russa. It's the first time since 2002 the Diamondbacks have had more than one player selected. RHP Brandon Webb is one of five candidates for the NL's All-Star Final Vote.

--OF Eric Byrnes on disrupting Barry Bonds' potential 751st career home run when he leapt in right field on June 30 and nearly caught the ball, which ended up bouncing off his glove and then the wall before going for a double: "I knew he crushed it. But just the way the ball wasn't traveling. ... As soon as he hit it, I thought without a doubt it was going to be a home run. But then I just kind of saw it dying out there and leaped for it."

--RHP Jose Valverde entered the week having gone four straight appearances without allowing a hit or a walk and converting all four save opportunities to extend his career-high season total to 26. He had allowed just six base runners in his previous 10 outings combined.

--The Diamondbacks entered the week batting .235 (153 for 648) with runners in scoring position -- 15th in the National League.

--Arizona went 14-13 in June, its first winning record in that month since the 2003 club went 20-6. That's the best mark the club has ever had in June.

--A Diamondbacks' front-office official quickly dispelled a report out of the Miami area that Arizona might be dangling outfield prospect Justin Upton to the Marlins in exchange for LHP Dontrelle Willis.

BY THE NUMBERS: .205 -- The Diamondbacks' average with runners in scoring position, through July 1 against the five clubs they'd played this season that entered the week with records above .500 -- the Dodgers, Padres, Phillies, Mets and Red Sox. Arizona had a .255 RISP average against all other clubs.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Sometimes late in games, when I come up to pinch-hit, I have better swings and am more selective at the plate. I don't know what the reason is. I should have the same approach all game." -- C Miguel Montero, whose first five home runs this season were in a pinch-hitting role.

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