Diamondbacks Offense Among MLB's Worst

Upton has not been living up to his billing

The Arizona Diamondbacks haven't had what you would call a high-powered offense in years. In 2006, they finished 7th in the NL in runs scored, easily the franchise's best showing since they won 98 games in 2002. The D-backs finished tied for last place in the NL West in that 2006 season due to pitching issues, and they could finish last again this year if their offense doesn't shape up.

The Diamondbacks are struggling out of the gate because of their offense.

After getting one-hit against left-hander Randy Johnson and two Giants relievers Sunday, the D-backs are hitting .216, 15th in the NL. Only Cincinnati is worse. The D-backs' 40 runs are 14th in the NL. With only three runners reaching base Sunday, Arizona's on-base percentage dropped to the worst in baseball. The D-backs are hitting .215 with runners in scoring position.

Arizona scored two runs in 27 innings in San Francisco over the weekend, winning the middle game on Chris Young's two-run double in the ninth inning after Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum had 13 strikeouts in his eight innings.

Newcomer Felipe Lopez (.347) is the only regular batting over .285. Chad Tracy, who does not play against most left-handers, is hitting .281, the only other regular over .245. Third baseman Mark Reynolds is at .243. Outfielders Eric Byrnes and Justin Upton are a combined 8-for-56 (.143) with one homer and four RBI. Catchers Chris Snyder and Miguel Montero are 3-for-35.

The D-backs (4-8), who were never more than 4 1/2 games back in the NL West in either of the past two seasons and won it in 2007, are 5 1/2 games behind the Dodgers entering a nine-game homestand against the Rockies, Giants and Cubs that begins Monday.

"We haven't swung the bat well to this point, and that's why we have the record that we have," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "We've had some real good pitching performances, but when you don't swing the bat, you put a lot of pressure on your pitching staff to have to be perfect."

The D-backs were 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position against the Giants, squandering Augie Ojeda's leadoff double against Johnson in the seventh in the finale. Byrnes moved Ojeda to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Johnson retired the next two hitters.

"We had to come out here and swing the bats better than we did," said Byrnes, who played with Johnson the previous two seasons. "He pitched great -- obviously he was fired up. His velocity was up and he didn't miss too many locations. He put the ball where he wanted to, and when he's like that, he's pretty tough to hit."

GIANTS 2, DIAMONDBACKS 0: LHP Randy Johnson, spurned by the D-backs in the offseason, threw no-hit ball for six innings before SS Augie Ojeda hit the first pitch of the seventh inning for a double, the D-backs' only hit. Ojeda got to third base with one out but was stranded there. Johnson struck out seven and walked two in his first start against the D-backs in his 22-year major league career. RHP Max Scherzer gave up one run and three hits in five innings, striking out six.

Johnson, who won four consecutive NL Cy Young awards with the D-backs from 1999-2002, made his first appearance against Arizona in his 22-year career, the only team he had never faced. Johnson holds D-backs records for victories (118), starts (232), innings (1,630 1/3), strikeouts (2,077), qualified ERA (2.83), complete games (38), and shutouts (14).

SNAKE BYTES

--RHP Dan Haren is 0-3 with a 1.89 ERA after a 2-0 loss in San Francisco on Friday despite three quality starts. The D-backs have scored one run in the 19 innings he has been on the mound. Since 1983, the only other pitcher to start 0-3 with an ERA under 2.00 was Cubs RHP Juan Cruz, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

--RHP Yusmeiro Petit will make his second start of the season Tuesday against Colorado. He gave up three runs in five innings while filling in for RHP Brandon Webb against the Dodgers on April 10. The D-backs would not need a fifth again until April 28, by which time Webb is expected to return.

--RHP Tom Gordon pitched two innings Thursday in an extended spring training game at the D-backs' minor league complex in Tucson, then Started for the Reno Aces on Sunday. He allowed two runs on three hits in his one inning of work in an 11-inning 5-4 loss to Salt Lake.  Gordon is likely to get four or five rehab appearances before joining the D-backs, perhaps by the home series against the Chicago Cubs on April 27-29. The D-backs' bullpen has 6.75 ERA.

DIAMOND STAT: 1 -- Runs the D-backs had scored in the 19 innings that RHP Dan Haren had been on the mound in his first three starts this season, all quality starts and all losses.

QUOTABLE:  "When you don't swing the bat, you put a lot of pressure on your pitching staff to be perfect." -- Manager Bob Melvin.


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