PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 28: Starting pitcher Joe Saunders #34 of the Arizona Diamondbacks reacts after giving up a solo home run to James Loney #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 28, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Regular Season Ends With Loss To Dodgers; D-backs Open Playoffs On Road

Matt Kemp and James Loney hit home runs off Diamondbacks starter Joe Saunders in L.A's 7-5 win, but Diamondbacks have playoffs for which to prepare.

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Diamondbacks Lose To Dodgers; Playoffs Begin Saturday In Milwaukee

Another night, another grand slam in the ninth inning. But this time the Diamondbacks couldn't come all the way back for a win, the way they had done in such thrilling fashion the night before.

Cole Gillespie hit a grand slam with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Yet the D-backs still came up short in a 7-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday night in the regular-season finale at Chase Field.

Arizona needed to beat the Dodgers and for Pittsburgh to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in order to get home-field advantage in the divisional round of the National League playoffs on the last night of Major League Baseball's regular season. The Brewers won 7-3, and the Diamondbacks, their fate already sealed midway through the evening, fell to the Dodgers despite the late show they gave remaining fans. 

That set the pairings for the two NL Division Series. The Diamondbacks are off to Milwaukee for Game 1 of their series on Saturday, while the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the NL wild card Wednesday and go to Philadelphia in the other series. 

Atlanta's loss to the Phillies saved -- yes, saved -- the D-backs from opening up against the pitching-rich Phillies. Ian Kennedy is expected to be the Game 1 starter for the Diamondbacks, who finished the regular season 94-68, the third-best record in franchise history.

Joe Saunders figures to be in the Diamondbacks' starting rotation come the Division Series, but he still needs to figure out how avoid giving up runs early in games. The Dodgers tagged Saunders for five runs on nine hits through six innings, continuing Saunders' trend of allowing a higher batting average to opponents in the first few innings. 

Saunders usually settles down in the middle innings, however. Wednesday night, he didn't.  But his teammates made it quite a finish, as Henry Blanco followed Gillespie's slam with a solo shot, the fifth time the D-backs have hit back-to-back blasts this season.

The Dodgers scored a pair of runs in the fourth inning, both with two out and on an RBI triple by eighth-place hitter Jamey Carroll and single by starting pitcher Ted Lilly. 

Matt Kemp, the Dodgers' MVP candidate, hit a two-run home run off reliever Wade Miley, whose one inning of work didn''t help his cause to be on the playoff roster.  Dodgers fans at the game gave Kemp a standing ovation after he struck out in the ninth, his last at-bat of the season. 

The Diamondbacks managed just three hits off of Lilly.  By the ninth inning, manager Kirk Gibson had inserted six bench players ino the lineup, knowing his team's playoff opponent was set. 

A crowd of 41,791 was there to send the D-backs into the postseason, and with that, the regular-season attendance total ended up at  2,106,975.


Ryan Roberts Walk Off Grand Slam Propels Diamondbacks Past Dodgers, 7-6

Well, that was incredible.

After the Diamondbacks gave up five runs in the top of the tenth inning, all hope was seemingly lost. But Ryan Roberts never says die.

With the bases loaded, down 6-3, Roberts hit a walk-off, game-winning grand slam off of Los Angeles Dodgers closer Javy Guerra to propel the Diamondbacks to their 94th win of the 2011 regular season.

The bottom of the tenth felt like nothing more than an intriguing subplot, as the Diamondbacks had the bases loaded, down four runs, with Aaron Hill at the plate. With a chance to tie the game, the Dodgers brought in closer Javy Guerra. Hill was patient, resisting the urge to swing at Guerra's arsenal of breaking balls.

Hill earned a walk, driving in a run to bring the score to 6-3. That's when Roberts did the unbelievable, driving the first pitch he saw into the left field bleachers and causing absolute pandemonium at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.

Justin Upton was victim to a fluke injury. A bomb off the bat of A.J. Ellis careened off the wall, striking Upton in the side of the head. Upton recovered to throw the ball into the infield, but was immediately removed from the game. Just days after sustaining a concussion after being hit on the head by Tim Lincecum, this was an awful sight for the D-backs to see.

To sum up the top of the tenth inning, Micah Owings allowed Dee Gordon to get on base with a double. When Jerry Sands attempted to bunt Gordon over to third base, Owings committed a cardinal mistake, throwing the ball into left field, allowing Gordon to score.

After that, all hell broke loose. Matt Kemp singled, getting to second on a bobble error by Chris Young. After retiring Juan Rivera, Owings allowed James Loney to single before walking Aaron Miles.

Then, A.J. Ellis inflicted a two-run triple that, as previously mentioned, injured Upton. When all was said and done, the Dodgers scored five runs off of Owings, who earned the win despite his worst outing of the season.

Rookie Jarrod Parker got his first career start, a 73-pitch, 5.2 inning outing that promised good things in the future for the big club. While he only collected one strikeout, his efforts were noticed.

With one game to play, the Diamondbacks are one game behind the Milwaukee Brewers for homefield advantage in the playoffs. After this miracle that just took place, anything can happen tomorrow night. Anything.

For more on the Diamondbacks, check out AZ Snake Pit.


Arizona Diamondbacks Fall To Dodgers 4-2, Hudson Again Shaky Early

Daniel Hudson was going for his 17th win on the season which would have been a very impressive number for the young pitcher. Instead, Hudson had another one of those games that have plagued him all season where he gives up a handful of runs early before settling in. 16 wins is impressive too.

Hudson gave up a double and a walk before MVP candidate Matt Kemp blasted a ball over the yellow line in left centerfield. Daniel would go on to retire the next 15 batters he would face before giving up another run in the seventh inning to end his night with a disappointing line (7 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 1 HR, 1 BB, 5 SO).

"Obviously, it just wasn't a smart pitch. Bad pitch selection by me. Just want that one back," Hudson said about the 3-2 change up he threw to Matt Kemp that ended up over the wall.

Offensively, the D-backs bats took so long to get going against young Dana Eveland that the press box no-hit pool got fired up. It wasn't until Chris Young got a hit in the fourth inning that the perfect game was busted.

In the eighth inning Arizona finally broke through thanks to a franchise-tying five walks by three Dodgers relief pitchers. Unfortunately, with the bases loaded Paul Goldschmidt struck out and Gerardo Parra flied out so the D-backs couldn't capitalize beyond the two runs walked in.

Arizona couldn't take advantage of a lead off error in the ninth inning and the game ended with an Aaron Hill fly out.

Justin Upton was evaluated for concussion before the game which included the Impact test. Gibson lifted him from the line up after he took BP, saying he just didn't seem totally right. Justin thinks he'll be fine and his not playing on Monday was a precautionary move. He plans on playing on Tuesday.

The D-backs fail to capitalize on a Brewers loss and remain one-game back in the race for home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.


Arizona Diamondbacks Close Season With Dodgers Series

The Arizona Diamondbacks open their final series of the regular season. Instead of a merciful end to the summer, this series marks the final preparations for the playoffs. Fun stuff.

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