Bullpen tosses de facto no-no in extras
D-backs' 'pen sets up game-winner with nine hitless frames
SAN DIEGO -- For the first nine innings on Sunday, the D-backs' bullpen once again struggled.For the second nine innings, it was dominant. All of that added up to a 9-6 win over the Padres in an 18-inning affair that took five hours and 45 minutes to play at PETCO Park. "I don't know how to describe that game," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "Roller-coaster emotions of being in complete control with Dan Haren, to all of our bullpen pieces being active and ready and rested, to a demoralizing game-tying home run, to nine innings of test of will between two teams. It was an exhausting game, but a happy ending for us." The 18 innings matched the longest game in Arizona franchise history. The D-backs also played, and won, 18-inning games against the Giants (1-0) on May 29, 2001, and the Rockies (2-1) on Aug. 15, 2006. The time of game was just eight minutes shy of the record set in the game against the Giants. The D-backs looked to be on their way to making quick work of the Padres, as they built a 6-0 lead through six innings. Haren was cruising, allowing just one run in seven innings and seemingly en route to a well-deserved win. However, the bullpen, which has struggled mightily the last few weeks, imploded once again, allowing the Padres to score five runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie it. The game marked the second time on this road trip that Haren left with what seemed a solid lead only to wind up with a no-decision. On Tuesday night against the Dodgers, he left up, 5-1, only to watch the bullpen allow five runs in the eighth as Los Angeles won, 6-5.
The most unlikeliest hit of the inning came when David Eckstein lined the first pitch he saw from closer Chad Qualls over the wall in left for a two-out, game-tying, three-run homer.Qualls has pitched sparingly over the past week while dealing with right forearm stiffness, but Hinch said it did not limit Qualls' effectiveness.
Going Deep ... Into the Night
|6/7/09||at SD||18||Won, 9-6|
|8/15/06||at COL||18||Won, 2-1|
|5/29/01||at SF||18||Won, 1-0|
|9/16/06||at COL||16||Won, 7-6|
|4/13/99||vs. LA||16||Won, 7-6|
"I thought his stuff was good," Hinch said. "He got the ground balls he needed to before the Eckstein at-bat. He left a pitch up that Eckstein drove. They didn't hit the ball hard until Eckstein. I thought his stuff was fine. He wasn't tentative, didn't back down, he just gave up a home run."Once it gave up the lead, the bullpen was unhittable, literally. Jon Rauch (one inning), Esmerling Vasquez (two), Clay Zavada (2 2/3) and Leo Rosales (3 1/3) combined to pitch nine innings without allowing a hit. "On the one hand, we blew Danny's lead," Reynolds said. "On the other hand, the bullpen -- after they tied it up -- the bullpen did great. What did they give up, no hits? That's unbelievable. They did a great job and we were able to stay in there, play good defense and get a W." As afternoon turned to evening, the Padres eventually ran out of pitchers and had to turn to shortstop Josh Wilson to start the 18th. It was not Wilson's first crack at pitching during his career. In fact, of the two scoreless innings he had thrown prior to Sunday, one was for the D-backs earlier this season. "It's two ways," Hinch said when asked if there was some relief on the D-backs' side when Wilson came into the game. "One, you feel better because they're not going to be sharp and they don't have as many offspeed pitches, but the second part is you get a little too comfortable and your swings can get a little bit big." Wilson was one strike away from getting out of the 18th unscathed when he had a 3-2 count on Mark Reynolds with runners at first and second. "It's tough, because, No. 1, he's a position player and you don't want him to get you out," Reynolds said. "No. 2, you don't know what he's going to throw. When he pitched for us, he threw all fastballs so you figure he's got some kind of wrinkle." Not only did Wilson throw Reynolds a breaking ball, it also looked like he threw him a change. Wilson actually had Reynolds down 0-2 on a pair of fastballs before the count ran full. Reynolds then went the opposite way with a fastball and hit it into the first few rows of seats to give the D-backs a lead. "I laid off some high fastballs and he left one out over and I was able to barrel it up," Reynolds said. This time, it was a lead they would not relinquish, as Rosales retired the two through four hitters in the San Diego lineup in order in the bottom half of the inning to end things. "We were just trying to give ourselves a chance to win," Rosales said of the bullpen's work. The loud music played in the clubhouse following the game and there were relieved looks all the way around. "I think if we lost that game it would have been pretty deflating for this club," Rosales said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.