Parra's homer helps D-backs sink Rays
Lopez battles to earn victory in Interleague series finale
ST. PETERSBURG -- With apologies to Aerosmith and Run DMC, the D-backs' starters are beginning to get a stranglehold on the whole walking thing.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
While starter Rodrigo Lopez steered clear of setting a new record for free passes like teammates, Dontrelle Willis, Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, all did earlier this week, the 34-year-old right-hander managed to walk five batters over six innings, all coming after the third frame.
But Lopez was somewhat Jackson-esque in the way he was able to squirm out of trouble, allowing just one run during his 99-pitch outing, as the D-backs beat the Rays, 2-1, in front of 25,442 fans at Tropicana Field.
The win claimed the Interleague series against one of the best teams in the American League, and was the first series victory since the D-backs beat the Cardinals two out of three at home two weeks ago.
"It was a good series win for us," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "We did it in bizarre fashion with all the walks, but we didn't give up a lot of hits either and not a lot of runs. You come into this place against a good team and you get a series win, you just get out of town and go on to the next series. It's a nice boost for us."
Over the three-game series, D-backs pitchers issued 26 walks, including 22 by the starters, but they were able to hold the Rays to just seven hits. In addition, in confounding fashion, Willis, Jackson, Kennedy and Lopez allowed a total of five hits over the last four games combined. Arizona is now the first team since 1900 to have its starting pitchers allow a total of five hits over a span of four starts, in addition to having its starting pitchers allow 29 walks or more since the starters for the St. Louis Browns allowed 30 from Aug. 28-Sept. 1, 1951.
"The walks definitely need to come down because we're not going to keep doing it this way," Hinch said. "It is puzzling to see so many walks but their discipline was evident in this series and for it to only hurt us in one game is nice. I'm as surprised as anyone [about the hits allowed] but you'll take it anyway you can get it with the wins and just get out of town on to the next series."
Lopez, who is 11-5 in 15 career starts against the Rays, "scattered" those walks and two hits with three strikeouts before giving way to the bullpen, which held the Rays scoreless and hitless over the last three innings.
Blaine Boyer pitched a perfect frame in the seventh and Juan Gutierrez tossed a scoreless eighth before Aaron Heilman came on in the ninth to nail down his second save of the season, thanks in large part to Chris Young's spectacular catch against the wall on B.J. Upton's potential game-tying drive to the deepest part of the park in center with two out and one on.
"It got a little scary when he hit that ball," said Lopez, who was watching the game on the clubhouse television. "In Chase Field, it would be a home run easy."
Heilman was fortunate for the diagonal cut-out formation of the walls in left center at Tropicana Field and for the keen eye and intuition of his teammate.
"Whenever I get to a new ballpark, I always make sure I check the layout of what it's like around me," Young said. "The tough thing about this field is there's no warning track. It's just brown turf. You can't feel the difference. My best chance is to hurry up and get to the wall and the way the field is shaped, if the ball fades to the cut-out, then I may have a chance. I just ran for the cut-out and the ball ran out of gas. I thought I was going to have to jump to save a home run, but I didn't even have to jump."
As it was, the win finished the road trip rather nicely, as Arizona secured its third win in the past 19 games away from home and its first road series win since May 3-6 against the Astros, when they won three of four.
"Everybody threw the ball well today," Heilman said. "Blaine came in and did a great job, [Lopez] did what he always does, battled and threw a great game. We played great defense behind him and we were able to put a couple runs across the board and hold 'em to it."
Heilman's steady performance now gives Hinch options from the 'pen.
"There's going to come a time where he's going to be called upon to come in in a different spot," Hinch said. "He's really tough on lefties. He's like a lefty specialist that we don't have. There's going to come a time where it's going to flip-flop a bit eventually, whether [Gutierrez] gets the mound in the ninth depending on the circumstances and matchups. But whether he's pitching the seventh, where he started the year, the eighth, where he's been most successful here, or the ninth, I have a lot of faith and trust in him with the game on the line."
Rays starter Wade Davis dueled right with Lopez and kept a clean slate against the D-backs, until loading the bases with one out in the fourth with two walks and a single. Davis escaped trouble when Chris Young grounded into a double play, but the D-backs got to him the following inning, when Rusty Ryal recorded his first Major League triple with one out and Gerardo Parra followed with his second homer of the season on a deep drive over the center-field wall.
The D-backs were in position to score again against Davis in the sixth after Justin Upton extended his hitting streak to six with a double to lead off the inning. But after Upton advanced to third on a groundout by Miguel Montero, Upton was caught off third when Davis fielded a comebacker from Young and threw to Rays catcher John Jaso, who tossed the ball to Evan Longoria down the line. The Rays' third baseman then tagged Justin Upton and threw the ball to Rays second baseman Sean Rodriguez, who got Montero out at second.
Upton one-upped his brother, B.J., in this series with Justin going 5-for-9 with a home run and an RBI, while B.J. went 0-for-9. Justin Upton finished Interleague Play with a .446 average (25-for-56) to go with four homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs.
"There wasn't a lot of offense on either side in this win and I thought both pitchers did a good job of pitching," Hinch said. "The runs were definitely hard to come by, but you take what you can get and when you can get a series win out of it, you get out of town as quick as you can."
Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.