D-backs' rally punctuates win in home finale
Abreu, Young connect for two-run shots in eighth inning
PHOENIX -- The D-backs' final home game was emblematic of so many others this season. There were disappointing moments. Then gut-wrenching ones.
Emblematic of so many others -- except that the home team won.
The lineup was silenced early, the bullpen was bad late, but in their own way -- yes, the D-backs' drawn-out way -- they overcame a three-run, eighth-inning deficit to beat the Dodgers, 5-4. Arizona (64-92) finished its last homestand, 5-1, and secured victory No. 40 at Chase Field.
Many of the 37,911 in attendance were standing and chanting "Beat L.A." shortly before Juan Gutierrez secured the final out for his 14th save.
"For us to get the last home win of the season, I think it's great for the fans," said starter Joe Saunders, who left down, 2-0, after five innings. "I was proud of the boys for picking me up and coming back and getting the 'W.'"
This time, it was the Dodgers' bullpen that paved the way for a loss. In relief of seven-inning starter Chad Billingsley, setup men Ronald Belisario and George Sherrill were given a three-run lead with which to work after Rod Barajas crushed a two-run shot off of Sam Demel (2-1) in the eighth. And they needed it.
In a span of three batters in the bottom of the eventful eighth, Tony Abreu, against Sherrill, and Chris Young, against Jonathan Broxton (5-6), each struck two-run home runs over the left-field fence.
Both shots were relatively unlikely. Abreu hadn't gone yard in his previous 187 at-bats, and Young entered the game 0-for-13 with eight strikeouts all-time against the Dodgers' former closer.
"If you ever want to get your first hit off a guy," interim manager Kirk Gibson said, "that's how you want to do it, right there.
"Perfect time. Hopefully he has turned the tables on that matchup."
"Finally," said Young, who, after being told how at-bats he had gone hitless against Broxton, added, "It felt like it was 45.
"You try to take the same approach against a power pitcher, and hopefully sooner or later you connect on one of them. He's obviously a closer for a reason; he's got good stuff. He gave me a good pitch tonight."
Earlier, Saunders appeared well on his way to bookending the D-backs' final homestand of the season with wins all by himself. But, of course, he was on the shelf well before the topsy-turvy affair concluded. Saunders, who tossed one-run ball for eight great innings on Tuesday, was outlasted by Billingsley.
Saunders gave up a 2-0 lead in the fifth: Ryan Theriot's two-out bunt single kept the inning alive, and, after Matt Kemp's own single to left field, both scored on James Loney's gapper in a full count.
"I made some good pitches on Loney," Saunders said. "The 2-2 pitch, I talked to [catcher Miguel] Montero afterwards, and he said it just missed. I wanted that pitch, obviously; it was borderline pitch."
The D-backs' two-run hole proved difficult to fill.
Facing an Arizona starting lineup sans its strongest sluggers -- Justin Upton (left shoulder irritation), Mark Reynolds (jammed right thumb) and Adam LaRoche (rest) -- Billingsley retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced, seven via strikeout. Brandon Allen, LaRoche's lineup replacement, singled off Billingsley in the second to summarize his club's offense through four innings.
The D-backs finally advanced a man into scoring position in their half of the fifth, and it took only one swing of the bat: Montero tripled for the first time this season -- and just the second time in his four-plus Major League seasons -- to lead off the inning. Montero scored two batters later on Cole Gillespie's sacrifice fly.
"I was getting ahead of hitters today," Billingsley said. "[I] had good command of all my pitches and I kept the ball down. My body, my arm feel good."
Later in the same frame, Gibson elected to pinch-hit LaRoche for Saunders, who had thrown 90 pitches, but the D-backs usual starting first baseman struck out looking.
"It was a tight game," Gibson said. "I wanted to go for a right there."
Saunders allowed six hits and struck out six and received a no-decision. Right-handers Leo Rosales and Blaine Boyer, pitching clean sixth and seventh innings, kept the club in contention.
And, amazingly, Montero tripled for the third time in his career -- a high, broken-bat fly ball off the right-field fence that rolled away from Reed Johnson -- to lead off the seventh inning. Though, this time, he was left stranded 90 feet from tying the score. Allen struck out looking -- Billingsley's 12th of a career-high-tying 13-strikeout performance -- a batter before shortstop Rafael Furcal fielded Gillespie's grounder on the infield dirt and gunned Montero down at home plate.
"He was just locating well," Allen said of his strikeout. "It was a back-door cutter. He made a great pitch. I kind of gave up on it, because he threw me a two-seamer in, and I kind of gave up on that cutter. It went backdoor and came back across."
Billingsley allowed just four hits in seven innings before his bullpen proved unreliable. Two of those hits were Montero's triples. It was quite a franchise-record-tying feat for the short but stout catcher, whose wife, Vanessa, gave birth to the couple's first child on Saturday. Montero said he left the hospital late Saturday night to get some sleep prior to Sunday's early game. It worked. As one reporter put it: Montero had a baby, then had twins.
"The first [triple] was, I was like, 'Oh, it's going to be a blooper.' Then like, 'Oh, I might get a double.' And then, 'Holy cow, I gotta keep running,'" Montero said. "The second one, it was a broken bat. I never thought it was going to hit the wall."
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.