The Arizona Diamondbacks went through their most disappointing series of the season in San Diego. After winning the opener, Arizona blew two late inning leads and wasted a plethora of scoring opportunities in losing the next three. Instead of going into San Francisco with a substantial four or five game lead, the Diamondbacks left San Diego with both the Giants and the Dodgers tight on their heels and gaining ground. The bullpen went to San Francisco battered and with little reason for confidence. Worse, all three of the losses came in games, which could have and should have been wins. The failure to take advantage of scoring opportunities continued to plague this team and was joined by questionable pitching and base running decisions.
Curt Schilling improved his major’s leading record to 19-6 with a 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres in the first game of a double-header on Aug. 31. Danny Bautista hit a pair of homers and Luis Gonzalez clubbed his 51st in the victory.
The Padres came back to gain a split by winning the second game 6-5. Brian Anderson pitched well enough to win and left the game with a 5-3 lead. Troy Brohawn faced three batters and gave up three hits and the lead. The Giants in the last game of the most recent homestand had bombed Brohawn. The bullpen, which has been magnificent in recent weeks, didn’t get the job done this time.
The Diamondbacks used five pitchers in the eighth inning of the third game of the series, four of them before recording an out, and saw a four run lead turn into a two run deficit. B.K. Kim gave up a grand slam homer to Ray Langford, but it was three hits and a walk that set up the disaster. Starter Albie Lopez worked six strong innings and deserved to win. Miguel Batista, who was listed as the probably starter three days later at San Francisco, seemed an unlikely choice as the first reliever. He got through the seventh inning, but gave up a pair of hits to start the eighth. Batista was followed by a pair of pitchers just recalled from Tucson who gave up a single and a walk. The first batter Kim faced was Langford and the lead disappeared with one swing of the bat.
The final game of the series was yet another heart breaker for the Diamondbacks, a 13 inning, and 1-0 loss. Randy Johnson pitched brilliantly, allowing no runs and only two hits in 7 1/3 innings. It wasn’t good enough. The Diamondbacks left 19 runners stranded, including the bases loaded in each of the last two innings. Kim lost on a game-ending home run for the second straight game as Ryan Klesko sent Arizona reeling to San Francisco, their lead down to two games.
The Giants took two of three to move to within 1 1/2 games of Arizona. It was the final meeting of the regular season between the two teams.
Rich Aurelia hit a pair of home runs in the Giants’ 5-2 win over the Diamondbacks in the opener of the series. Each homer gave the Giants a lead. Barry Bonds also homered for San Francisco. The game turned, however, in an inning in which Arizona had four hits and a walk, yet scored only a single run. This inning was a prototype of what has plagued this team for much of the second half of the season: a continuing failure to take advantage of scoring opportunities. It was also a nightmare game for Matt Williams who misplayed a double play ball and let the Giants tie the score, then hit into a third to home to first double play with the bases loaded and no outs.
Curt Schilling won his majors leading 20th game of the season with a 7-2 victory over the Giants on Wednesday. The win stopped a four-game Diamondback losing streak. Craig Counsell had four hits and scored four times to lead the way. Schilling had three hits, with each contributing to the scoring. Reggie Sanders also had three hits. Schilling has won 12 times following a D-Back loss, none bigger than this one.
The Giants prevailed 9-5 in the series finale. Arizona started strong, taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but Albie Lopez walked three and gave up three hits and four runs in the bottom of the frame. An inning later, he surrendered Barry Bonds’ 60th homer of the season.
The Diamondbacks returned home on Friday to host the San Diego Padres for a three game series. After Monday off, the D-Backs began a three game series with the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday. The final road trip of the season begins on Friday at Milwaukee. After three games in “Brew Town”, Arizona will come back into the Western Division for three games at Colorado and a potentially critical four game set at Los Angeles. The final six games of the regular season will be played at Bank-One-Ballpark against the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers.