video thumbnail

SD@ARI: Overbay hits an RBI single to center field

PHOENIX -- The D-backs wore their throwback purple pinstriped uniforms on Friday night at Chase Field, harkening back to 2001, when they won their only World Series title. But they are in their own zone this season, no matter what garb they wear.

Justin Upton reached the 30-homer plateau for the first time in his career, Daniel Hudson pitched his third complete game and Lyle Overbay had the decisive eighth-inning hit off former D-backs closer Chad Qualls, as Arizona came from behind to defeat the Padres, 3-2.

Coupled with a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers in San Francisco, the defending champion Giants now trail the D-backs by 8 1/2 games in the National League West with 17 to play. With 84 wins, Arizona is also a half-game behind the Brewers for the second-best record in the NL, heading into Saturday evening's 10th anniversary celebration of defeating the Yankees in the World Series.

"I hope those guys come into the locker room before the ceremony and tell stories," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said about the legends who will be in the house. "They get even better as the years go on. It's a big day for us. We're trying to go where they've already been. They had a magic and togetherness and a determination. It'll be an affirmation of where we want to go."

There's one big difference: the 2001 team never had this kind of commanding lead. They eliminated the Giants and captured the NL West on the last Friday of the regular season.

This team is on a huge roll, having won 15 of its last 17 games and a record 14 in a row at home to build a lead on the Giants that seems all but insurmountable with less than three weeks to go.

Upton's sixth-inning solo shot off Mat Latos gave him a homer in each of his last three games.

Upton left Thursday night's 4-1 victory for a pinch-runner in the seventh inning, feeling ill and dehydrated. He had also homered in that game in the sixth inning. But Upton said on Friday that he had more energy and was back in the starting lineup.

Upton's homer made him the third player in the Major Leagues this season to reach 30 homers with at least 20 steals. Curtis Granderson of the Yankees has 38 homers and 24 steals, while Matt Kemp of the Dodgers has 32 homers and 37 steals.

Upton has 30 and 20. Asked about the feat, he said:

"What about it? It feels good, but the season's not over yet."

Overbay, who was released by the Pirates little more than a month ago, drove in the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning single off Qualls, who had an 8.29 ERA last year before he was jettisoned by the D-backs. The big hit came on a 2-2 pitch.

"I felt like I was throwing the ball well," Qualls said. "I got ahead and then felt like I threw a pretty good sinker down and he hit it. I felt like it was actually a good pitch. You can't be too upset about it."

Overbay made his big league debut and had two at-bats for the 2001 D-backs, but was not on the playoff roster. He had 10 at-bats for Arizona the next season, and hasn't been in position to make the playoffs since.

"It's great to be back in that playoff atmosphere," Overbay said. "When it happens so early in your career you get used to it and you think it's going to be that way every year, and it wasn't. I've got to absorb everything because it might not happen again."

Hudson (16-9) earned the win by allowing two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. He threw 106 pitches. Combined with his staff mate Ian Kennedy, who has 19 wins, the pair have accounted for 35 between them. In contrast, Philadelphia's dynamic duo of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have combined for 33.

Gibson actually could have lifted Hudson twice in the game. The first time was when he elected to let Hudson hit with none out, the game tied at 2 and a runner on third in the seventh. The move backfired when Hudson, a .288 hitter, struck out. Gibson also could have gone to the bullpen at the start of the ninth, and most managers certainly would've done so after Jesus Guzman opened with a double, but it didn't happen.

"His pitch count was in great shape," Gibson said. "In the last two innings I had a little fun with him, but I knew he was determined, even at the plate, and wanted to be the guy. He had good stuff. I was messing with him, saying, 'Hey, it looks like you're getting tired.' He said, 'I knew you were going to do that.' Until he gave up the lead, probably, he would've been on the hill."

Hudson didn't give up the lead, and the storybook season continued. Purple and teal or Sedona red, it hardly matters at this juncture with the D-backs on an historic tear. Comments