It was Star Wars Night At Chase Field, and the Force was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Apparently not so with the non-Jedi Oakland Athletics, who have found the Phoenix ballpark to be their Death Star in the first two games of the interleague series.
Miguel Montero's long drive over the pool deck and onto the concourse in right field flew away with the speed of an X-Wing fighter. Montero's bomb and former Oakland pitcher (and Star Wars fan) Trevor Cahill's pitching led Arizona to a 8-3 win, their fourth in a row.
That tied a season high for consecutive wins, which the D-backs (29-30) accomplished over the first four games of the season.
"We were scuffling five games ago, and we did a lot of talking about how we need to reverse it and kind of re-committed to ourselves and what we were doing. Tried to get rid of all the negative things around us," manager Kirk Gibson said.
Cahill, traded to Arizona in a five-player swap that included Parker last December, pitched 7 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits, striking out a season-high seven to improve to 4-5. Parker, who made his major-league debut for the Diamondbacks only last September, was done after five innings, allowing six runs on eight hits.
"I was throwing a lot of curve balls. Slider was a lot better, probably the best it's been in a long time," Cahill said, admitting he was more nervous than at any time this season because he was facing his friends from the A's. "Six years in the minor leagues and big leagues, so it was definitely more nerve-wracking."
Cahill got tired in the eighth inning.
"At the end, he was out of gas. Tried to get as much out of him as we could," Gibson said. "Just threw a great game for us."
Brad Ziegler, another former A's pitcher, finished up the eighth.
The Diamondbacks scored first when WIllie Bloomquist singled, stole second and came home on a fly ball single to right field by Jason Kubel.
Oakland tied it, Cahill walking Brandon Moss after striking out the first two hitters of the second inning. Kurt Suzuki grounded a double down the right field line to drive in Moss.
Kubel just missed a home run in the third, the ball sailing wide of the foul pole in right field. Montero just missed his former teammate, Parker, with piece of broken bat in the bottom of the fourth when Montero grounded up the middle to shortstop, the bat shard flying toward Parker on the mound.
Bloomquist has been one of the Diamondbacks' better hitters, and his second hit of the game came in the fifth, a line single to right. The runner on first, Gerardo Parra, wasn't fooled by Oakland second baseman Jemile Weeks pretending to catch the ball and flip to second, and Parra kept right on motoring to third base.
That gave the scuffling Justin Upton a chance to drive in a run in a key situation, and after Upton took a close pitch that didn't get called a strike, he ripped a hard double up the middle to drive in Parra and give the D-backs a 2-1 lead. Bloomquist took third.
Parker got a visit to the mound from another former D-back, manager Bob Melvin, and intentionally walked Kubel to load the bases. Up came Arizona's hottest hitter of late, Paul Goldschmidt, who worked the count full before striking out swinging, making Melvin's decision look like the right gamble.
For a moment. Montero still had a chance to keep the inning alive, and with two out, he went deep for his second career grand slam. Safe to say, he knew Parker's pitch selection well as one who caught him, and therefore had a slight advantage.
"It's nice. I had an opportunity and I didn't come through there," Goldschmidt said. "Miggy picked me up, so it's awesome."
"Pretty good with runners in scoring position," Gibson said of Montero. "Lot of pressure on him."
The A's couldn't come back from that, and the Diamondbacks sent a lot of fans and Star Wars geeks home happy. Especially after they added on two runs in the eight after Upton was intentionally walked and Kubel and Goldschmidt hit RBI singles. Goldschmidt extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
"I'm just going out and trying to get good swings," Goldschmidt said. "I've felt good the past couple of weeks, the past month."
Outfielder Chris Young wasn't in the lineup but will be in the starting nine Sunday.