video thumbnail

ARI@LAD: D-backs knock in five runs in the sixth

LOS ANGELES -- It took a little while, but once the offense got rolling the D-backs steamrolled the Dodgers, 7-2, on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

It was the D-backs' 17th win in their last 20 games as they maintained an 8 1/2-game lead over the Giants in the National League West with 14 left to play and reduced their magic number to seven.

The D-backs also pulled even with the Brewers in the race for the second-best record in the NL and home-field advantage in the NL Division Series.

Joe Saunders (11-12) pitched seven solid innings to pick up the win. The left-hander allowed two runs on four hits as he won for the third time in his last four starts.

Saunders allowed just one walk for the second straight start, a focus of his after struggling a bit previously with his command.

"My goal tonight was to throw strikes and try not to walk anybody again," Saunders said. "I thought I did a pretty decent job. I tried to mix the speeds up against a good lineup and luckily they hit it at guys and they made some plays."

His defense could not help him in the first on a ball that Matt Kemp crushed the opposite way and over the right-field wall to put the Dodgers up 1-0.

"He's a good hitter, you know, what are you going to do?" Saunders said. "I tried to make some pitches against him and I missed and then had to come over the plate with a strike. It was a good pitch, I thought, but he's a strong boy and he's got good pop the opposite way. It only counts as 1 so tip your cap and move on."

Saunders did not allow another run until the seventh and retired 13 in a row at one point.

Through five innings, though, Dodgers starter Ted Lilly outpitched Saunders as he held the D-backs hitless until a one-out single by Ryan Roberts in the fifth.

"Either we hit him well or we struggle," D-backs outfielder Chris Young said. "Today, he kept us off-balance. The game wasn't flying by by any means and we got a little impatient, but we were able to stick in there for a little while and get to their bullpen and manufacture some runs."

Even while the D-backs were not able to score against Lilly, they were able to run up his pitch count, which would wind up helping chase him from the game in the sixth.

"We talk about it a lot and then they finally make adjustments and they figure things out," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of his team's recent success the third time through the order. "The other part of it is, if you can extend a starting pitcher, the more pitches you see the better chance you have of them making a mistake."

The mistakes started happening in the sixth as the D-backs scored five runs off Lilly and a pair of relievers to take control of the game.

"They're a good baseball team," Lilly said. "They've got a good lineup, their starters have been pitching well and they definitely have a strong 'pen. So these are fun games for us to match up with them."

Aaron Hill got the scoring started in the fifth with an RBI double while Paul Goldschmidt and Ryan Roberts each had an RBI single. Gerardo Parra capped the scoring with a two-run single to left to give Arizona a 5-1 lead.

Parra contributed another two RBIs in the eighth to give the D-backs an added cushion. It was the second time in his career that he had driven in four runs in a game.

"Parra was the guy today," Young said. "Parra came up with four RBIs, all with two outs. I think that's the main thing you have to focus on. Those two-out ribbies will win you a ballgame and he came up huge for us tonight."

After reliever Bryan Shaw retired the first two batters of the ninth, the Dodgers loaded the bases, which forced Gibson to use his closer, J.J. Putz, who retired Dee Gordon to end the game and earn his 39th save.

MLB.com Comments