D-Backs unable to salvage nightcap
Representing tying run, Gonzalez caught stealing to end game
PHILADELPHIA -- Bob Melvin wasn't about to let one of his players take the blame for what apparently was a serious communication lapse.
But Luis Gonzalez wasn't about to skirt the blame, either, as the Diamondbacks manager and his star player both tried to explain the bewildering ending of Arizona's 5-3 defeat to Philadelphia in the nightcap of a twi-night doubleheader before 43,449 on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.The sweep marked a season-high fourth straight loss for the Diamondbacks, who lost the first game, 10-6, and fell to 30-26. Philadelphia extended its season-high winning streak to five and moved two games over the .500 mark, at 29-27, for the first time this season. Arizona starter Russ Ortiz took the loss, dropping to 4-5, while Philadelphia's Brett Myers improved to 5-3 with the victory. What had fans scratching their heads, however, was the double-steal attempt the Diamondbacks tried on the first pitch to cleanup hitter Troy Glaus in top of the ninth. With Arizona trailing, 5-3, with two runners on and two outs, Craig Counsell took off for third and Gonzalez broke for second, but was pegged by Phils catcher Todd Pratt for the final out of the game. "I probably should have just stayed at first," said Gonzalez, whose 3-for-4 effort was wasted in the loss. "Counsell had a great jump and Pratt made a good throw, and I was trying to get to the back end of the bag. I wanted to get to second with the tying run and our big man at the plate. Obviously, I didn't want to get thrown out. This is just a terrible feeling and a bad way to end a game." At which point Melvin came out from his office and made sure the blame should fall on him, and not Gonzalez for the snafu. "It's my fault, I'm to blame," Melvin said. "It was a mix-up, just a mix-up. It was a very strange way to end the game, with Troy, our No. 4 guy, up. It was a serious communication breakdown." The blame should actually fall on Placido Polanco. The Phils' third baseman did the most damage, cranking out two homers, his second and third this season. The first was a two-run shot in the sixth, and his solo homer in the eighth, which just crept over the left-field wall, gave Philadelphia some insurance. Ortiz went seven innings, giving up four hits and four runs. He was masterful through five innings, yielding just one run on one hit. During that stretch, Ortiz retired 15 straight before walking into serious trouble in the sixth. First, pinch-hitter Endy Chavez, batting for Myers, snapped Ortiz's run of consecutive outs with a single to left. Then Kenny Lofton drove the speedy Chavez home with a triple to deep center. Polanco followed with a two-run homer to left, changing the course of the game, as the Phils took the lead, 4-3. After giving up a first-inning single to Polanco, Ortiz proceeded to find a rhythm. He was patient and showed great command on his pitches. "We lost, so it doesn't matter how well I pitched," Ortiz said. "I made a couple of mistakes that were the difference in the game, that's what the way I look at it. It seems like we're always in every game, and we're giving ourselves opportunities to score. It's just a matter of getting that big hit. It's something we did earlier this year, getting the two-out hit." The Diamondbacks opened the game with three straight singles, leading to their first run, on a Gonzalez single to center that drove home Counsell. Arizona extended that lead to 3-1 when Alex Cintron and Gonzalez hit back-to-back homers in the fifth inning. Cintron's solo shot was a second-tier blast, followed by Gonzalez's 299th career homer, a low liner that landed three rows deep into the lower bowl of right field. It was the second time this season Diamondback hitters socked back-to-back homers. The first came on May 25 when Glaus and Tony Clark did it in a 12-11 victory against San Diego. Myers gave way to Ryan Madson in the seventh. The lanky middle reliever shut Arizona down in the seventh and eighth innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced. Billy Wagner then came on to pick up his 13th save, thanks to the wild ending.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.