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Montero hammers a two-run shot to center

DENVER -- When they left on the road a little less than a week ago, the D-backs led the Giants by six games in the National League West.

They wrapped up their six-game trip with a 5-3 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night at Coors Field and boarded their charter flight home with a seven-game lead and a magic number of 13 with 19 games left to play.

"It was a great road trip," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of the 4-2 trip, which also included a stop in San Francisco. "I think we left at six games and we're coming back at seven, so we're making progress. None of them are easy. We're getting closer to the initial finish line. ... It's a good day for us after [Tuesday]."

On Tuesday, the D-backs coughed up a lead in the eighth inning when setup man David Hernandez struggled with his command.

Wednesday's game followed more of a familiar pattern. The D-backs came from behind to take a 5-3 lead, Hernandez tossed a scoreless eighth and closer J.J. Putz shut things down in the ninth.

"David was a little angry tonight," Gibson said. "He came out and threw the ball well."

Joe Saunders (10-12) tossed six quality innings for the D-backs to earn the win. The left-hander allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out four.

Nursing a 4-2 lead, Saunders allowed a single and a walk to lead off the sixth, prompting Gibson to visit the mound.

The manager had no intention of taking his starter out, despite the fact that he had the bullpen up and throwing.

"The first two runners got on and Gibby came out and said, 'Let's go. Pick it up a notch,'" Saunders said. "I kind of figured that he was going to come out there and either chew my butt out or light a spark, and he did.

"It was nice to see Gibby come out there and say, 'Hey, I've got faith in you. Let's make some pitches and get yourself out of this mess here.'"

Saunders retired the next three men to end the threat.

"Joe dug down," Gibson said.

The D-backs trailed, 3-2, through five before putting together a two-run rally in the sixth against Rockies starter Kevin Millwood.

Paul Goldschmidt led off with a single and two outs later, John McDonald drove him home with a double to left.

Saunders then helped his own cause with a single down the left-field line that scored McDonald and put Arizona up, 4-3.

"They're just gritty," Millwood (2-2) said. "They never give up, never give at-bats away. They just do what it takes to win ballgames."

Justin Upton extended the lead when he led off the seventh with a home run to left.

In all, there were five homers hit by the two teams. Miguel Montero also went deep for the D-backs, while the Rockies got homers from Millwood, Carlos Gonzalez and Wilin Rosario.

There were plenty of smiles in the Arizona clubhouse following the game, but no one was making playoff plans just yet.

"You can't get too far ahead of yourself," Upton said. "There's a lot of baseball to be played. Crazier things have happened, so we have to continue to win ballgames and put this thing away."

With such a large division lead, Upton was asked if the D-backs were keeping an eye on the Brewers these days. Milwaukee leads the D-backs by 2 1/2 games in the race for the second-best record in the NL.

That's important because, as it stands now, the team with the second-best record would face the Wild Card Braves in the first round instead of the Phillies with their vaunted pitching staff.

"No," Upton said. "I mean, when the playoffs start, it doesn't matter who you play; it's how you play. You've just got to get there first. We still have to go home and continue to play well, but we're definitely happy with the road trip." Comments