Nats Run Up Score On D-backs In Extra Innings, 9-4

The magic died for the Diamondbacks when Joe Paterson came into the game in the 11th inning, giving up five runs (including a grand slam) that led the Nationals to victory.

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Nationals Salvage Series Split Despite Another D-backs Comeback

It's only June 5, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have 17 comeback wins, tied for most in the majors. 

Sunday was shaping up like No. 18, until Joe Paterson imploded like he hasn't all season and walked in the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th and then gave up the hardest-hit grand slam a lot of people have ever seen to the Washington Nationals' Mike Morse.

The Nationals won 9-4.

Admit it, Diamondbacks fans. You'd become spoiled with all these rallies and being at the top of the NL West. This one was just proof that no matter how hot a team is, it can't win them all. 

The Nationals saw their 4-0 lead evaporate in the last two innings after Kelly Johnson homered and the D-backs scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie on two hits, two walks, a sacrifice fly and some hustle from the man called X, Xavier Nady, who beat out what could have been a double play to end the game and allow Miguel Montero to score from third. 

Montero showed some guile and hustle himself, taking third on the Melvin Mora sac fly to put him 90 feet away from the tying run with one out. 

The craziness of this game wasn't only to be found in the late innings. Four Nationals were hit with pitches by the Diamondbacks. Jayson Werth was hit for the third time in four games and Danny Espinosa twice, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson maintaining that the strategy was to crowd those hitters with pitches. 

Werth was hit, and the Nationals "retaliated" with Jason Marquis hitting Justin Upton in the back. Marquis and manager Jim Riggleman said there was no purpose to hitting Upton, who was hit four times in the series with pitches, because Washington was up 1-0 at the time and Marquis had a shutout going. 

In any case, Arizona reliever Esmerling Vasquez took one for the team when he plunked Espinosa in the eighth. With Marquis and Riggleman already tossed, Vasquez and Gibson were given the heave-ho by home plate umpire Rob Drake and Vasquez was cheered by some of the 23,139 at Chase Field.

"None of it was offensive to me. It was a very intense baseball game today, it was entertaining, it was well played," Gibson said. "Unfortunately someone had to lose and unfortunately it was us."

Upton didn't seem to take much offense to being hit four times, though he said it stung.

"I have been getting hit but I am not going to move," he said. "That is part of the game. If they want to keep coming in there and getting hit is part of the game, we will take care of it."

Translation: My boys got my back if the big-money player gets beaned.  

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Joe Saunders, Defense Stellar In Diamondbacks Win Over Nationals, 2-0

Joe Saunders has now gone six or more innings in his last seven starts and hasn't given up more than four earned runs in any of those games. In other words, he's been all together solid. Saturday night in the Diamondbacks home black uniforms he stepped that up to another level. Saunders went seven scoreless innings and with only 93 pitches thrown was ready to come back out for the eighth inning before being lifted for a pinch hitter. 

Saunders threw 55 of his 93 pitches for strikes, walked two, struck out five and lowered his ERA to 4.32 on the season. Joe helped himself with two stellar defensive plays and got great support behind him from Stephen Drew who's work at short often goes overlooked.

Offensively, the D-backs hitters struggled with veteran Livan Hernandez but Drew tripled-in a run in the first inning and Xavier Nady's double in the seventh plated Chris Young for an insurance run that proved unnecessary. Livo's line was was solid seven innings, four hits, two earned runs, three strikeouts and four walks.

David Hernandez and J.J. Putz came in from the pen and provided their normal eighth and ninth inning shutdown show.

With the win and a Giants loss to the Rockies, Arizona regains first place in the NL West and improves to 18-4 since May 14. Ian Kennedy pitches on Sunday to close out the four-game set with the Nationals. The D-backs have won the last two after dropping the series-opener.

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Collmenter, Drew Lead D-backs To 4-0 Win Over Nats

Josh Collmenter is making the Arizona Diamondbacks feel pretty good about at least three members of the club's five-man starting rotation. 

After Friday night's seven-inning shutdown of the Washington Nationals, in which Collmenter blanked the DCers on three hits in a 4-0 victory, Collmenter has made five starts in which he's allowed two or fewer earned runs, five or fewer hits and two or fewer walks. He walked one Friday. 

His motion left even veteran All-Star hitters like Pudge Rodriguez wondering what he was seeing.

"He has a very strange windup. He hides the ball very well and has a great changeup," Rodriguez said. "When you have a guy that throws way over the top and has a great changeup like that, nine or 10 miles an hour less, it is pretty tough to hit."

Nats manager Jim Rigggleman said with the way Collmenter was pitching, his normally 86-mph fastball looked more like 94.

Collmenter more than did his part, and Stephen Drew provided the run support with a bases-loaded triple in the bottom of the fifth inning that cleared the bases. Chris Young hit a solo home run in the second to open the scoring and leads the NL in extra-base hits with 30

The Diamondbacks are 17-4 in their last 21 games though they remained half a game out of first place in the NL West after San Francisco won. 

Collmenter's outing was his longest of the season and his pitch count (103) the second-highest.

"We really needed it. Our bullpen's tired," manager Kirk Gibson said.

The only negative of the evening was Justin Upton getting hit with pitches twice. 

"Hit him on the arm. He can take it. He's got a badge of honor, he can wear it around," Gibson said. "It's not a big deal. He's great about it. He took it. I think it's a bit of respect, that's the way I look at it. He's been on fire since Sunday in Houston. I wouldn't want to pitch to him either."

 

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