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Facing the first sign of trouble, things unraveled quickly for the Arizona Diamondbacks and staff ace Ian Kennedy (8-3). A five-run sixth inning led by former D-Back Conor Jackson doomed the snakes, sending them to a 7-2 loss in the closing game of their final interleague series with the Oakland Athletics. Arizona lost the three-game set, 2-1.
Though, by all intensive purposes the game started off promising. Locked into an early pitchers duel, Arizona's Chris Young was finally able to break through in the top of the fourth, leading off the inning by blasting a double down the left field line off Gio Gonzalez. After consecutive Diamondback groundouts, Xaiver Nady scorched a two-out single up the middle to bring Young home and put Arizona up on the scoreboard, 1-0.
The momentum would be short lived, however, as Coco Crisp and Hideki Matsui immediately answered by leading off the bottom of the fourth with successive singles. After working his way to two outs, it briefly looked as if Ian Kennedy would be able to minimize the damage, until David DeJesus preceded to smash a double to left center, sending both Crisp and Matsui home to give Oakland control of the game, 2-1.
It would only get worse for the Diamondbacks. After a Chris Carter single led off the bottom of the sixth inning, former D-Back Conor Jackson opened the floodgates by crushing a homer to deep left field.
The A's would go on to score five runs in the inning, including a Scott Sizemore two-run homerun that chased Kennedy out of the game. Kennedy's rather unmemorable final line: five and two-thirds innings, ten hits, seven runs, six strikeouts and 103 pitches in the loss.
The Diamondbacks fleetingly threatened in the top of the eighth, loading the bases on reliever Michael Wuertz with no outs. However, Joey Devine would replace Wuertz, and induce two quick Arizona outs.
With the bases full Kurt Gibson sent Sean Burroughs up to plate, who ground through a long at-bat before knocking a shallow single to left field. Justin Upton would score on the play, and it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Chris Young would follow suit. Yet, in a bizarre series of events, the speedster was skittishly gunned down standing by Matsui for the third out of the inning. Young's effort was clearly questionable on the play, and Upton's vivid insistence for his outfield compatriot to slide into home plate was met with deaf ears.
Oakland's Gio Gonzalez walked away the game's winning pitcher, having tossed seven stellar innings in which he allowed just five hits and one run while striking out seven. The win is the All-Star lefty's eighth of the season.
With the loss, the Diamondbacks (45-40) maintain a two-and-a-half game deficit behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. Next, Arizona travels to Milwaukee to begin a three-game series with the star-studded, NL Central-leading Brewers. First pitch will be at 7:10 p.m. MDT.
The Arizona Diamondbacks started strong and never vanquished their lead during a 4-2 win against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday. The victory evened the series 1-1 after the Athletics took Game 1 of the series on Friday night.
Joe Saunders (5-7) had a solid performance. Though he gave up eight hits, he also pitched three strikeouts and gave up only two runs in seven innings.
Chris Young was the offensive hero for the Diamondbacks as he racked up four RBIs on three hits. His single in the first inning borught Kelly Johnson home to give the Diamondbacks an early 1-0 lead. Young hit a double to bring Johnson home again in the third inning and extend the lead to 2-0. He saved his best for last, hitting a home run in the fifth to bring Justin Upton and himself back to home plate for a 4-0 lead.
The Athletics made a run in the bottom of the eighth inning when they scored two runs off of Yhency Brazoban. A scoreless ninth inning by both teams, though, sealed a 4-2 victory for the Diamondbakcs.
The series is tied 1-1 heading into Sunday's decisive Game 3.
Pena did it again, but that early lead he gave Arizona was short-lived, as the Oakland Athletics rocked Josh Collmenter for four runs in the fifth inning and made it stand in their 5-4 win over the D-backs at the O.co Coliseum Friday night.
After Ryan Sweeney tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the fourth with a bloop single to score Hideki Matsui (who'd just stolen his first base of the season and first since 2007), the A's became the Swingin' A's for a change in the fifth.
Oakland's offense is one of the worst in the big leagues, but on Friday, it finally gave a starting pitcher some run support.
The big rally happened with two out in the bottom of the fifth. Oakland had runners on first and second when Cliff Pennington singled to drive in one run. Coco Crisp followed with another base hit for an RB! and 3-1 lead, and Matsui ripped a two-run double before the inning was over.
Gerardo Parra appeared to have a home run in the sixth, but Crisp timed his jump at the wall perfectly to rob Parra with a catch in center field.
The Diamondbacks fought back in the eighth against an old rival, former Colorado Rockies closer Brian Fuentes. After a walk and fielder's choice ground out, Kelly Johnson took Fuentes deep over the wall in right field (picture Van Earl Wright saying that) for a two-run home run.
Arizona looked poised for another late comeback, but Joey Devine for the final two outs of the eighth, and the D-backs never threatened again.
Collmenter failed to last five innings for just the second time in 10 starts this season. He gave up all five runs on seven hits, striking out five.
The lucky A's pitcher was starter Rich Harden, who was in control for six innings, allowing just two runs on four hits with six K's. Andrew Bailey got his seventh save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning, fanning Pena for the last out of the game.
The D-backs (44-39) dropped three games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are back on the road after a three game homestand against the Cleveland Indians.
In order to properly prepare Chase Field for the All-Star Game festivities, MLB decided to schedule Arizona on the road for the final ten games of the first half of the season.
When it is all said and done, the Diamondbacks will have played 16 of the last 19 games of the first half on the road, nine of which were in American League parks, where Wily Mo Pena could play as the designated hitter.
Arizona will travel to Milwaukee and St. Louis before the All-Star break. The D-backs open up the second half of the season with a ten game homestand.
Diamondbacks Starting Lineup:
Athletics Starting Lineup:
The Arizona Diamondbacks made some expected roster moves and dropped a bit of a bombshell in announcing that closer J.J. Putz was going on the 15-day disabled list. According to the team, Putz is being put on the DL retroactive to June 29 due to right elbow tendinitis. Manager Kirk Gibson has previously announced that the team was releasing Melvin Mora and that move become official as well.
Putz has struggled recently after starting the season with 16-straight saves. He's blown four saves in his last nine opportunities and gave up a run in a tie game in the ninth inning that earned him the loss. GM Kevin Towers recently suggested the Putz had a "dead arm" but the team's closer has insisted all along that he's been fine physically.
Demel, 25, was placed on the disabled list on May 24 (retroactive to May 22) with right shoulder tendinitis and missed 36 games. In 2 rehabilitation appearances with Reno, he posted a 9.00 ERA (2 ER in 2.0 IP) with 2 walks and a strikeout. In 21 games for the D-backs, he has a 1-2 record and 1.72 ERA (3 ER in 15.2 IP) with 7 walks and 10 strikeouts.
Burroughs returns to the team after being sent down in favor of Wily Mo Pena. He went 6-24 (.250) in 23 games while he was with the team from May 19 to June 19.
The Oakland A's (36-45) were supposed to be good this year and the Arizona Diamondbacks (44-38) were supposed to be bad. Instead, the A's got hit hard by injuries including Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Tyson Ross and Rich Harden and the D-backs are proving that Kirk Gibson's personal grit can translate to wins on the field.
Offensively, the A's struggle to get much done. They rank at or near the bottom of the American League in most offensive categories and have scored 86 fewer runs than the D-backs through 82 games.
This series is the start of a 10-game roadie for the D-backs and will be their final big test before the All-Star break. With the Brewers and Cardinals coming after this final interleague series in Oakland. A 5-5 mark on the trip would be perfectly acceptable.
Josh Collmenter takes the mound Friday to get things started. He's been rocked in his last three starts and the numbers show that the more times batters see his funky delivery, the more likely they are to hit his sub-standard stuff. At some point, you wonder if he's not better off back in the pen with Ownings perhaps getting some starts. We'll see how he does against the anemic A's order.
Here's the pitching probables for the series. All games will be on Fox Sports Arizona with a live game thread onAZ Snake Pit.
Expect an announcement at some point Friday on the roster move to replace the released Melvin Mora. Also be sure to get your final looks at Wily Mo Pena in the starting lineup at DH.
If you are in need of more series preview, here's a great one.
Series Preview #28: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Oakland Athletics - AZ Snake Pit
Indeed, the A's appear destined for another middling season in 2011, as a slew of injuries and generally abysmal offense have conspired to derail a promising season in Oakland. It certainly appears that Billy Beane is running out of tricks.