Gonzo Jersey Retirement Inspires D-backs To Blow Save Then Walkoff Home Run

The D-backs opened up a nice 5-0 lead after 4 innings but blew that only to have Chris Young save the day with a walkoff home run. He also had a leadoff home run to start the game.

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Sweet Win For Gibby's Fighting D-backs

Uh oh. The Diamondbacks are 5-2 in the month of August. They are winning games against bad teams (the Nationals) but are now up 2-0 in a series with the division-leading Padres as well.

Does it mean anything? Hell to the yes, as our friend Scott Howard likes to say.

This is a young team that just got a lot younger at the trade deadline, and for them to learn how to win and how it feels to play winning ball is a big deal when we look forward to next season.

It still all comes down to how the team spends the money saved from The Great Salary Dump of 2010, but in the meantime, there's a core group of players here who need to experience success and end their season on a high note. That's what the Padres did after their trade deadline blow up, and it paid off this season.

The goal is .500 ball through the end of the season.

Speaking of young, Chris Young, the hero of tonight's game, was asked in the clubhouse if he was feeling any kind of team turnaround.

 "Yeah, the game's getting played the right way. We're playing nine-inning games," he said. "We're playing 27 outs. Everybody's playing hard. We really want to win, no matter what position we're in in the standings. As a team you should have that fight about you."

As for tonight's thrilling victory that featured Young's lead-off and walk-off solo home runs, Gibby was pretty clear about his feelings: "That was sweet."

And just to be sure we all understood he repeated it. 

Yes, sir. That was indeed sweet.

The sweetness began with a four-run rally in the fourth inning that, when combined with Young's opening inning, opposite field bomb, gave the D-backs a 5-0 margin to work with.

Things got sketchy in the sixth when Rodrigo Lopez hit the 80-pitch mark and got himself into a jam that he couldn't get out of. A pair of singles from Tejada and Gonzalez, followed by a Ludwick double and another single from Headly and Lopez, chased him from the game.

He didn't seem too upset with his performance, and frankly a five-inning, three-earned run performance is about what you expect from a back-of-the-rotation guy. He did his thing.

The bullpen held it down for a couple of innings before getting to Heilman in the ninth. Coming into this game, he had tossed 10 1/3 scoreless innings, but he'd also worked the last four games.

"For me to ask him to do that and for him to do it, it was a great effort and it shows great character and it's only fitting that he got the win," Gibby said.

For his part, Heilman manned up: "I felt good. I've been able to do it before in the past. I had no problem doing it."

He gave up two solo shots in the ninth that tied the game and with a lot of the pen having been used already, the prospects of a successful extra-inning affair weren't looking good.

But Young came right back and did what players on winning teams do -- pick his teammates up.

Young didn't want to take credit, however, instead putting it back on the fans, of all people.

"You have 50,000 fans in the stands, and honestly, it's easy to get that adrenaline flowing," he said. "It's easy to play the game and the fans really brought the energy tonight. When you're out there in the field and you hear the screaming fans it definitely makes a difference for us. Pretty much the fans got us the win tonight."

Young talked about his "oppo" home run that started the game

"I think that's three, but who's counting ..." he said. "I just happened to be a little late and it goes to right field. By no means am I trying to guide it to right field. I'm not trying to hit it to right field, it's just going to happen every now and then.

"I've never been an oppo hitter and I don't plan on being an oppo hitter. My power's normally to center field, left-center. Left field sometimes. If I can hit through the middle of the field and make small adjustments to the right or left, I think that's where I need to be."

It wasn't enough for Young's bat to be the hero. His glove wanted in on the action as well.

In the seventh inning, Boyer and Noberto each walked a batter and Bobby Crosby, who got the start for Mark Reynolds (scrambled brains) at third, allowed a runner on with an error.

With the bases loaded, Ryan Ludwick hit a blast to right-center but Young turned and tracked it down to save the inning and most likely the game. At least two if not three runs would have scored had a mere mortal fielder been patrolling center tonight.

"He goes back on the ball as good as anybody in the game," Gibby said. "He has the ability, if you watch him, he'll turn around and take his eyes off the ball many times. He knows right where to go. I know when I was an outfielder I never took my eye off the ball but he has that ability. He's special out there."

Kind of reminds you of Steve Finley who always got a great jump and had that same ability to streak to the spot and make the grab.

Chris down-played it of course, "I just shifted over there a little bit. We're going to play Ludwick to pull and he was a little late on the fastball so I went over to that side a little bit and he hit pretty much right into the shift. Ball in the gap, you just turn and go. It was a catchable ball so it was what it was."

What it was, was a great game-saving catch.

The D-backs got a little lucky as well when Padre starter Clayton Richard was attempting the difficult "Intentional Walk Play" and air-mailed one to the backstop allowing a run to score and the runners to advance.

As Gibby said, "You don't expect things like that to happen so we had a little luck on our side tonight."

A little luck and a lot of guts. Nice win for the home team.

For more, visit AZ Snakepit. They had their fan night at the game today and are certainly thrilled with the outcome.


Back at it tomorrow for a 1:10 p.m. get-away game. Joe Saunders will face Mat Latos with the sweep on the line.

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Chris Young Saves The Day With Lead-off / Walk-off Home Runs Plus Great Catch

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - Chris Young hit a pair of solo homers, including the game-winning blast in the bottom of the ninth, as the Diamondbacks snuck past the San Diego Padres, 6-5, on a night that Arizona retired Luis Gonzalez's jersey.

It was a special night for the Diamondbacks as Gonzalez became the first player to have his number retired by the organization. His No. 20 will forever be seen in 5-foot purple numbers on the facade of the party suites in right field next to Jackie Robinson's No. 42. Gonzalez is the franchise's all-time leader in nearly every offensive category after an eight-year stint with the club from 1999-2006.

Adam LaRoche, Rusty Ryal, and John Hester each had an RBI for Arizona, which has won three in a row and five of seven overall.

Rodrigo Lopez went five-plus innings in the start, allowing three runs on eight hits. The right-hander also struck out four and walked zero. Aaron Heilman (3-3) got the win despite giving up two homers in the top of the ninth.

Adrian Gonzalez went 3-for-4 with a solo homer for the Padres, who remain one game ahead of the Giants in the NL West. San Francisco lost to the Braves on Saturday.

Ryan Ludwick, Chase Headley, Nick Hundley and Jerry Hairston Jr. each drove in a run for San Diego. Starter Clayton Richard gave up five runs on five hits over a season-low 3 2/3 innings.

Trailing 5-3, the Padres hit a pair of solo homers off Heilman in the ninth to tie the game. Hairston led off the frame with a blast over the wall in left. Following two quick outs, Adrian Gonzalez blasted a 2-2 pitch over the left-field wall to make it 5-5.

Luke Gregerson (3-6) took over on the mound for the Padres in the home ninth. Young led off the inning and smacked a 1-2 slider over the wall in left to give the Diamondbacks the win.

Arizona got on the board in the first on Young's homer to right and added four runs off Richard in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead.

Kelly Johnson walked and Justin Upton singled to get things started. LaRoche hit an RBI base hit up the middle before Ryal drove in Upton with a double. After Bobby Crosby popped out, LaRoche crossed the plate on a wild pitch. Stephen Drew was intentionally walked prior to Hester's RBI single and Richard was pulled after striking out Lopez. Tim Stauffer got Kelly Johnson to ground out to limit the damage.

San Diego finally got to Lopez in the sixth. Miguel Tejada and Adrian Gonzalez hit consecutive singles to begin the frame and Ludwick followed with an RBI double. Headley added a run-scoring single, chasing Lopez from the contest. D.J. Carrasco took over and gave up a sacrifice fly to Hundley. Tony Gwynn Jr. grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Padres loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Jordan Norberto got Ludwick to fly out.

Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds (concussion) missed the game...The Padres had won six in a row against Arizona before losing Friday's series opener and are 7-4 in the 2010 season series. On the flip side, they have lost in nine of their last 11 trips to the Valley of the Sun...San Diego activated pitcher Mike Adams from the 15-day disabled list and optioned pitcher Ryan Webb to Triple-A Portland.

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Luis Gonzalez's No. 20 Is First D-backs Jersey Retired

It was a nice ceremony before the game. Chairs on the infield. A giant painting of Gonzo in his glory moment - the Game 7 World Series hit. And a video tribute accompanied by Green Day's "Good Riddance" (better known as "Time Of Your Life"). An original choice of musical score if there ever was one.

Gonzo gave a speech worthy of an aspiring politician, calling on kids to "dream big" and "work hard." Rocky Balboa would have been proud.

Here's the Arizona Republic with more on how great of a player Gonzalez was:

The five-time All-Star hit .283 with 2,591 hits, 354 homers and 1,439 with Houston, the Chicago Cubs, Detroit, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida and Arizona. He also had 596 career doubles, 15th all-time, and was one of 17 players to eclipse 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 350 doubles and 1,000 RBIs.

Gonzalez left as Arizona's all-time leader in 11 different categories, including games played (1,194), hits (1,337), homers (224) and RBIs (774). He hit .298 with Arizona before the Diamondbacks decided not to pick up the option on his contract in 2006.

Great guy. Nice player. Too soon to retire his jersey.
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