D-backs Dominate Pirates Early, Hang On Late For 8-5 Win

The Diamondbacks took two of three from Pittsburgh and lowered their magic number to two with the Giants playing Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

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Diamondbacks Edge Closer To Clinch With Win Over Pirates, 8-5

The Arizona Diamondbacks are almost there. With six games left in the season they hold a six game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NL West and the magic number (combination of D-backs wins and Giants losses) is down to two.

The D-backs are off Thursday while the Giants have games Wednesday and Thursday night before coming to Arizona for a weekend series. If the Giants should lose both games, the D-backs would be forced to celebrate their division pennant on an off day. Kirk Gibson wouldn't reveal anything about the team's plans, adding that close J.J. Putz is handling that.

Gibson emphasized that Putz has added far more than his 43 saves. The skipper called him the "cement" that brings all parts of the team together.

The more likely scenario for clinching is a Friday show down with the Giants for all the marbles. If it comes to that, center fielder Chris Young is hoping for a full house.

"Hopefully it would be sold out. Hopefully it will be a packed house. We could definitely use the energy that the fans bring on games like that. It will be exciting, it will probably be playoff baseball atmosphere," Young said. (Young now has hits in eight of his last 12 games.)

A decent crowd of 25,296 saw this Wednesday afternoon day game get off to a good start. The D-backs popped for three quick runs behind a sac fly from Justin Upton (88 RBI) and then a two-run home run (his 18th) from Miguel Montero

The D-backs piled on in the third inning, adding five more runs. The damage came from a series of hits (5) and walks (2) with Ryan Roberts and Aaron Hill driving in two runs each. Justin Upton batted twice in the inning with a lead-off single and the final out in the air.

Wade Miley got the win after pitching five innings with five hits, one walk and two runs allowed. He threw 89 pitches in his seventh start and improved to 4-2 on the season with an ERA of 4.15. 

 "Anytime the offense goes out and explodes like that it makes things a whole lot easier to go out and throw strikes and get out as quick as possible," Miley said.

The Pirates added a few a run in the sixth, seventh and eighth and were threatening to make the game interesting before Joe Paterson came in with runners on second and third and got a ground out from Ryan Doumit

For more on this game visit AZ Snake Pit.

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NL Wild Card Race Tightening Up, Could Help Arizona Diamondbacks

As the Arizona Diamondbacks close in on clinching the NL West, there has been plenty of talk about trying position the team somehow to avoid a NLDS matchup against the Philadelphia Phillies. As it stands in the MLB playoff race, the Diamondbacks would need to overtake the Milwaukee Brewers to be able to play the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the playoffs and have home-field. Currently, Arizona is only one game behind the Brewers for home-field.

If Atlanta is the wild card, the Phillies cannot play them in the first round, as they are in the same division. So the D-Backs could only play Philly or Atlanta.

That is what we have all thought.

Recently, the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants have been surging and the Braves have been sputtering. Atlanta's lead is now only two and a half games over the Cardinals and three and a half over the Giants.

If one of those teams overtakes the Braves, then Philadelphia would play the wild card team. That would mean Arizona would play Milwaukee.

Naturally, considering the Brewers' record at home (52-23 - best in the National League), in any case, the D-Backs will want to overtake Milwaukee.

With eight games remaining on the schedule, all at home, and only a game separating Arizona from Milwaukee, the previously unimaginable is now within reach - not only a playoff berth, but home-field advantage in the NLDS. 

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Ian Kennedy Gem Nets 20th Win, Diamondbacks Plunder Pirates 1-0

Ian Kenndy saved his best game of the season for his 20th win. After struggling in his last attempt when he allowed four early runs, Ian came back in this start and dominated from start to finish. He went eight innings and allowed just one run and struck out 12 including the last six batters he faced.

"I was tired of getting questions about (win number 20). I'm really happy to have done that," Kennedy said after the game. He was very excited about his performance in the game especially considering he had a poor warm up session in the bullpen. 

Kennedy's teammates greeted him in the club house with a standing ovation in appreciation for his accomplishment. Manager Kirk Gibson was very proud of his young pitcher saying, "He just took it to a whole other level...Ian certainly deserve all the credit he'll get."

The offense didn't get much going against the Pittsburgh Pirates but Justin Upton's broken-bat solo home run in the sixth was enough to get it done. He said after the game the ball hit the barrel of the bat and he somehow was able to get it out despite the handle breaking off in his hands. The shot just barely cleared the wall before being intercepted by a fan. After review, the umpires ruled it gone. 

"When the bat breaks, I didn't think it was going to even get close to that far," Upton said.

The Dbacks had five hits and one walk in the game.

Kennedy's final line for the night was eight innings pitched, one hit, one walk, no runs, 12 strikeouts. The win keeps Kennedy in contention for the National League Cy Young Award.

The only hit allowed went to opposing pitcher, Jeff Karstens, a friend of Ian's from days in the minor leagues. 

J.J. Putz came on to close the game in the ninth with Kennedy having thrown 113 pitches with 76 for strikes.

With the win and a Brewers loss, the D-backs are now one game behind Milwaukee in the race for home field advantage and the magic number to clinch the NL West is now four.

For more on the game, visit AZ Snake Pit.

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