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AZ 5, Dodgers 6 - Close, but no cigar

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Record: 44-34. Change on last season: +7. Pace: 91-71

Quote of the Day: "We were all saying that these guys aren't better than us. I mean, they've taken two from us the past two nights. But we're still confident. They got a big hit when they needed it. Abreu came off the bench and put a good swing on it. We just as easily could have done the same thing. They just beat us to the punch." -- Chad Tracy

Arizona - with the likely exception of Edgar Gonzalez - certainly played a lot better last night. But the end result was still the same, with a solo home-run off Slaten in the bottom of the tenth sending Arizona to defeat for the second night in a row. We had our chances to win - leading 2-0 and 3-2 - but EdGon was unable to hold them. He was pulled for a pinch-hitter after four innings, with a 5-3 deficit, and though Mark Reynolds tied things with a two-run blast off the bench.

The bullpen was forced into action early, and for the most part performed well. Dustin Nippert had two good innings, Juan Cruz posted a zero, and Brandon Lyon two scoreless innings, including a huge strikeout of Garciaparra with the bases-loaded in the ninth. All told, that was five scoreless innings after our starter was forced out early, a definite improvement over Monday night.

But our lefties struggled: the returning Randy Choate (yes, I know we got rid of him previously) faced one batter and didn't retire him. [Choate replaced Peguero, who was returned to Tucson, though Choate's stay may be short-lived, with RJ off the DL tomorrow] And Doug Slaten did get the two lefties he faced, but the next hitter was right-handed, and deposited the game-winner into the bleachers. They've been hitting .324 off Slaten this year, with an OPS 478 points higher than southpaws, so he may not get to see many more of them.

Unfortunately for Arizona, the Dodgers bullpen proved just a little bit better than ours. Their starter, like ours, surrendered five earned runs in four innings before being pulled, but their relievers delivered six shutout frames. We didn't get a single runner into scoring position from the moment they entered the game. Broxton, in particular, totally dominated our hitters - I saw one pitch clocked on TV at 101 mph. It took him only 16 pitches to get through the seven batters he faced.

On the hitting side, homers by Byrnes, Young and Reynolds accounted for four of our five runs. Things started brightly, Byrnes homering and Drew tripling - he came home on a Hudson groundout to give us a 2-0 lead. But after that, we were 6-for-37 and came up empty in five at-bats with runners in scoring position. Tracy had two hits, while Quentin reached three times on a hit, a walk and a plunking.

Thanks to the threaders: hotclaws, AZDarkKnight, Wimb (hope the results went well!), oklahomasooners, DbacksSkins, soco and johngordonma. Sorry the game ended in such a deflating fashion, but overall, we played a lot better than Monday.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Brandon Lyon, +32.1%
God-emperor of suck: Edgar Gonzalez, -34.2%

So, our stay atop the division lasted just two days, although a win tonight will send us right back to the top. It's a little disappointing to have lost the first two games: I was hoping for a split there. I still think we can take two games, but tonight's obviously becomes a "must-win" for that, on a number of levels. We need to derail the Dodger momentum, and remove any chance of a sweep, that would arm the nattering nabobs of negativity who say we're pretenders not contenders. Getting seven or eight innings from Webb would also give our bullpen a chance to come up for air.