At the start of spring training, Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson talked about how the Diamondbacks were going to be fighters to the end, and that won or lose the team would not quit. Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates was exactly that type of loss. It was a loss that the team walks away from not feeling too badly because of the way they played.
Sometimes after losses, Gibson seems edgy and even defensive, but after the game, while he does not like to lose, he was not too broken up. Part of that is where the team stands. It is also important for Gibson to not let the team panic, since they are in the driver's seat in the division.
"We've lost some games; it's going to happen," said Gibson in his postgame press conference. "It just comes down to at the end of a season like this, for whatever reason, it just doesn't work out that things were going to come off easy."
He continued to preach the 'one game at a time' approach, saying that they try "to pitch good, execute better at the plate" and, if they do those things, "things will take care of themselves."
As for the game, starter Daniel Hudson "wasn't getting the ball where he was wanting to put it," said Gibson. However, it apparently was not an issue of having his good stuff. "I feel like I had really good stuff today," said Hudson after the game. "I almost feel like too good of stuff sometimes, and you're aggressive and you just don't hit your spots."
He gave up two hits to the first two batters of the game to allow a run. Against Ian Kennedy on Monday, Pittsburgh managed only two hits the entire game. Pedro Alvarez then homered in the second inning and Hudson allowed one more run in the fifth, as the team fell behind 3-0.
Hudson left after the fifth inning, having allowed the three runs on seven hits and three walks. He threw 103 pitches.
As the team has tended to do over the course of the year, they rallied late, showing the fight that they did not have just a year ago.
in the seventh, after Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton left the game, Gerardo Parra, Sean Burroughs and Willie Bloomquist all singled to drive in a run. Justin Upton came to the plate with one out with the tying runs on base and got a pitch to crush, but he just missed it, fouling it off. He ended up being retired on a groundout and Miguel Montero flew out to end the inning, but they were able to keep pressure on the Pirates.
Unfortunately in the eighth inning, David Hernandez gave up a two-run homer to Derrek Lee to bring the score to 5-1. But even then the D-Backs had an opportunity in the eighth.
With one out, Chris Young doubled and then scored on a single by Ryan Roberts. On a perfectly executed hit-and-run, Gerardo Parra singled in the hole that was left when Pirates shortstop Roger Cedeno went to cover the bag. Roberts went to third on the play. With two outs, Willie Bloomquist laid down a squeeze bunt that he did on his own to bring home Roberts and bring the team within two runs. That got Aaron Hill to the plate as the potential go-ahead run for the second inning in a row. He flew out to end the rally.
Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to save the game.
Hudson fell to 16-11 on the season with the loss. Morton pitched six scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and picked up his 10th win of the year. Hanrahan's save was his 39th on the year.
Despite the loss, Arizona's magic number fell to only three, as the Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1. They can clinch as early as Thursday, an off day, if all things work out. However, the most likely scenario is that they will be able to clinch by beating the Giants when they come to town this weekend.
The Diamondbacks and Pirates close out the series with a day game on Wednesday.