The Arizona Diamondbacks started the second half of the season with show-downs against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants that saw them win four of the six games and gain on both rivals. The road trip began with Arizona trailing the Dodgers by 2 1/2 games. They had regained a slim lead in the National League West by the end of play on Thursday.
The trip began with a 4-3 win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles on July 11. Luis Gonzalez drove in two first inning runs and Craig Counsell and Quinton McCracken had two-out hits that each put the Diamondbacks up by one at the time. The bullpen was magnificent as Mike Koplove, Mike Fetters and B. K. Kim each worked a scoreless inning.
Curt Schilling improved his record to 15-3 with a 3-2 win over the Dodgers in the second game of the series. The Diamondbacks broke their home run drought with a pair of round-trippers in the sixth inning. Junior Spivey tied the game with a solo blast and Greg Colbrunn’s two-run shot proved to be the game winner. Schilling had perfect relief help from Mike Myers, Fetters and Kim.
The Diamondbacks moved back into first place briefly with a 7-5 win in the third game of the series. David Dellucci and Rod Barajas each had two hits including a homer. Brian Anderson was the winning pitcher and also had two hits. Matt Mantei and Kim were effective again in relief roles.
The Dodgers salvaged the final game of the series 2-1 and moved back into first place. Miguel Batista was once again the victim or a lack of run support. Matt Williams returned to the line-up with a ninth inning home run for the only Arizona score.
The San Francisco Giants served notice that the National League West would be a three team race by defeating the Diamondbacks 6-3 on July 15. Rick Helling had trouble with the gopher ball as the Giants built a commanding early lead. Counsell had three hits and Gonzalez and Barajas had two each for Arizona.
The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 5-3 in the series finale. Randy Johnson improved his record to 13-3 with relief help from Koplove, Myers and Kim. Mark Grace had two hits including a game-winning double. Dellucci and Chad Moeller also had a pair of hits for Arizona. The win gave the Diamondbacks a slender half-game lead in the division.
Schilling improved his record to 16-3 and 10-0 on the road with a 12-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. Gonzalez had three hits including a homer to pace the assault on the Rockies.
Colorado saw two leads disappear, but hung onto the third one in a 6-4 victory over Arizona on Thursday in the series finale. The Rockies bullpen shut down the Diamondbacks for the last four innings and Colorado touched up the Arizona pen for a pair of runs and the game.
The Diamondbacks continued on the road with three games in San Diego against the Padres over the weekend. The team returned to Bank-One-Ballpark on Monday to begin a three game set with the Rockies that ends tonight (July 24). The Padres will be in town on Thursday to kick off a four game series. Arizona has Monday off before flying to Montreal for two games with the Expos on July 30-31. After a day off, the Diamondbacks will face the New York Mets at Shea Stadium on Aug. 2, 3 and 4.