The Arizona Diamondbacks clinched the National League Western Division pennant on Friday with a 5-0 win over Milwaukee and an 11-10 Giants loss to the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks opened the post season at home on Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals and will play at 1 p.m. today (Oct. 10). The third and fourth (if necessary) games will be played on Friday and Saturday in St. Louis. The fifth game, if necessary, will be played at Phoenix.
The Diamondbacks took two out of three games from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 28, 29 and 30 in what was supposed to be the end of the regular season. The Giants took two of three from the Padres at the same time in San Francisco and remained two games behind the Diamondbacks with only six left to play. The Dodgers were virtually eliminated after losing twice in Phoenix.
Luis Gonzalez clubbed a sayonara home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to give Arizona a 4-3 win over the Dodgers in the series opener. The homer was number 54 for Gonzalez. There were plenty of Arizona heroes. A clutch two-out pinch-hit single by Mark Grace in the eighth got the game into extra innings. Mike Morgan got out of huge jam in the top of the 11th and picked up the victory. Curt Schilling worked a strong eight innings. B. K. Kim held the Dodgers scoreless in his two innings of work.
Miguel Batista was brilliant in his seven innings of work in the 8-1 Diamondback win in the second game of the series. Batista gave up only one run on four hits. Steve Finley and Gonzalez homered for Arizona. The Diamondbacks showed remarkable efficiency as they scored eight runs on only nine hits and left only three runners on base.
Chan Ho Park pitched the Dodgers to a 2-1 win in the series finale. Arizona had only one runner reach second base until the eighth inning. Shawn Green doubled home the first Dodger run in the first inning and scored the winning run after a leadoff triple in the ninth. Albie Lopez pitched brilliantly for the Diamondbacks, but would have left a loser without Tony Womack’s two-out single that tied the game in the bottom of the eighth. The Diamondbacks had four hits in the inning, but a base-running blunder kept them from capitalizing on the opportunity. Green tripled to start the ninth and scored on a ground ball.
The Diamondbacks moved closer to the divisional pennant by sweeping the Colorado Rockies on Oct. 2, 3 and 4. The wins were much needed as the Giants swept the Astros in Houston to stay two games behind.
Randy Johnson improved to 21-6 with a 10-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies in the first game of the final home series of the year. Luis Gonzalez hit homer number 56. Reggie Sanders also homered and Greg Colbrunn had three doubles and a single for the Diamondbacks.
Curt Schilling became the first 22-game winner in the majors with a 4-3 victory over the Rockies on Wednesday. B. K. Kim pitched a scoreless ninth in relief to pick up his 18th save. Craig Counsel doubled home the first two Arizona runs and scored the third on a wild pitch. Matt Williams double produced the fourth run to give the Diamondbacks a 4-0 lead. The Rockies didn’t quit and closed to 4-3 with Todd Helton’s eighth inning homer. Kim set the Rockies down in order in the ninth for the save.
The Diamondbacks took the series finale on Thursday 5-4 to stay two games ahead of the Giants. Brian Anderson garnered the win in relief. Kim recorded his 19th save with another perfect ninth. Counsel knocked in a pair of runs in the four-run Diamondback first. Reggie Sanders homered in the third, but the Diamondback bats were silent after that. The Rockies battled back, but Kim worked his magic for the second straight game with a perfect ninth inning.
The Diamondbacks clinched at least a tie for the pennant with Albie Lopez’s 5-0 shutout win over Milwaukee on Friday. Tony Womack led off the game with a home run and wound up with three hits, the same total as the Brewers managed off Lopez. Steve Finley also homed for the Diamondbacks.
The last two games of the season were more like meaningless spring training games as the Brewers took both by scores of 5-4 and 15-5.
Randy Johnson passed up his last regular season start to be ready to start today’s game against the Cardinals. Curt Schilling was the scheduled pitcher for Tuesday’s game and would be the starter in the series finale if a fifth game were necessary. Albie Lopez and Miguel Batista are slated to start the third and fourth games to be played in St. Louis.