The Arizona Diamondbacks, with all of their ups and downs and problems winning on the road this season, put themselves in a position to make a move in the NL West standings on the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants with their 7-2 win at Dodger Stadium Monday night.
The Diamondbacks got their current 10-game road trip off to a perfect start, and speaking of perfect starts, new third baseman Chris Johnson made a smashing debut a day after he was traded to Arizona from the Houston Astros.
Johnson's only hit of the game was the best hit possible, a grand slam in the top of the fifth off Dodgers starter Aaron Harang. It came after the Diamondbacks opened the inning with runners on second and third and no out, already leading 3-0. After a groundout and a strikeout, the Dodgers elected to walk Miguel Montero to face Johnson, who made manager Don Mattingly pay and drove a pitch into the bullpen in left field to put the game out of reach.
Johnson's home run overshadowed the home debut of new Dodgers infielder Hanley Ramirez, and the Dodgers were sky-high following a three-game sweep of the Giants in San Francisco.
Johnson had the biggest hit, but other Diamondbacks had big days against Harang. Gerardo Parra had three hits and the top four of the Arizona order (Parra, Aaron Hill, Jason Kubel and Paul Goldschmidt) combined for nine hits.
Goldschmidt hit a three-run blast to straightaway center field in the first inning to set the tone for the Diamondbacks (52-51).
The Diamondbacks were 4 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Starting pitcher Trevor Cahill wasn't dominant, but his offspeed stuff had a few Dodgers swinging at bad pitches. Cahill lasted six innings and allowed a run on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks.
Arizona picked up a full game on the co-leaders of the division, and San Francisco blew a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning at home against the New York Mets. The Diamondbacks moved to 3 1/2 games out of first place pending the outcome of the late Giants-Mets game.
Takashi Saito, a former Dodger who had not allowed an earned run in his first four outings of a season truncated by injury rehab, gave up L.A.'s second run of the game in the bottom of the eight. But the Diamondbacks got an important win and send All-Star Wade Miley to the mound Tuesday night with a chance to gain more ground on one if not both the Dodgers and Giants.
Los Angeles made a trade before Tuesday's deadline, adding some bullpen help by acquiring Brandon League from the Seattle Mariners for prospects.