A lot to celebrate: Sellout, walk-off, Gonzo
Young's second homer wins it as D-backs retire No. 20
PHOENIX -- The D-backs' first sellout crowd since Opening Day came out to see Luis Gonzalez.
Chris Young turned out to be the bonus.
Young's second homer of the game and second walk-off home run this season delivered Arizona's 6-5 victory over slumping San Diego on Saturday night before 48,946, many of whom bought their tickets to see Gonzo's No. 20 retired not expecting to be on the edge of their seats for nine innings.
They experienced both.
"It was a great baseball game," said Young of his club's fourth walk-off win of 2010, and third straight 'W' this week. "The big night for Gonzo, I think it went perfect. Pretty much the script. You have 50,000 fans in the stands, and honestly it's easy to get the adrenaline flowing."
It was already pumping in the top of the ninth inning -- before Young's heroics -- when de facto closer Aaron Heilman made things far too interesting for the home fans. Armed with a 5-3 lead, he yielded Jerry Hairston Jr.'s leadoff blast and, two outs later, Adrian Gonzalez's shot to left field.
Those in the home dugout didn't waver.
"Everybody was just, 'Hey, let's go out there and find a way to win this ballgame,' " said Heilman (3-3), who, pitching for the fourth straight day, recorded the bullpen's 17th blown save. "Nobody was in there hanging their heads or pouting. It was just, 'Let's find a way to with this game.' "
And the first man to cleat the dirt around home plate, Young, accomplished that deftly and swiftly, lifting Luke Gregerson's third straight slider over the left-field fence.
"I know myself as a hitter to the point I was pretty sure he was probably going to throw the slider," Young said of the 1-2 count. "He threw it down on [1-1], and I went after it. He happened to leave [the next] one up, and that's the one you really want to hit."
Young, of course, not only ended Saturday's game with a long ball, he started it with one, hitting Padres starter Clayton Richard's third fastball into the right-field seats -- a rare opposite-field home run for the pull-happy poker.
"I just happened to be a little late," said a smiling Young, who, according to Elias Sports Bureau, became the fourth player in four decades to smack a leadoff homer and a game-ending one. "That's why it went to right."
Without the D-backs' four-run fourth inning, however, Young's heroics wouldn't have mattered. Good old-fashioned rallying -- the D-backs sent 10 to the plate -- gave starter Rodrigo Lopez and the five relievers who followed him room for error.
Two hitters after Adam LaRoche (single) and Rusty Ryal (ground-rule double) each plated a run in the frame, Richard's 3-0 lob on an intentional walk cleared the glove of his catcher, Nick Hundley, and allowed LaRoche to score.
"It was very unusual for sure," D-backs interim manager Kirk Gibson said. "You don't expect things like that to happen. So we had a little luck on our side tonight."
John Hester finished the scoring with an RBI single to center field that brought Ryal home easily.
"He left some pitches out over the plate, and they didn't miss them," San Diego skipper Bud Black said of Richard, who exited with two outs in the inning and was charged with five runs on five hits.
Lopez, who held sturdy through five innings, allowed two runs on four straight hits to start the sixth. D.J. Carrasco entered with Padres on first and third base and no outs but, after yielding Tony Gwynn's sacrifice fly to center field, induced an inning-ending double play.
"We also understand that the Padres are a very good team," Gibson said. "It didn't feel like they were just going to lay down all game, so we were kind of prepared for that."
Aided by third baseman Bobby Crosby's second error in as many starts, San Diego threatened again in the seventh, loading the bases against Blaine Boyer and Jordan Norberto. The D-backs' lefty specialist Norberto walked Gonzalez on four pitches but retired the next hitter, Ryan Ludwick, on a warning-track flyout to center field.
Sam Demel picked up after Norberto in the eighth, and Heilman took the ball in the eventful ninth.
"It's frustrating because Rodrigo deserved that win," a humbled Heilman said, although Lopez didn't appear disappointed in Chase Field's victorious clubhouse.
"People got a good show," Lopez said.
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.