ST. LOUIS -- Following Tuesday's frustrating loss to the Cardinals, D-backs outfielder Justin Upton summed up his team's situation succinctly.
"It's August, there should be some sort of concern," Upton said. "We feel like we're a team that can win ballgames, but we're not doing anything great right now and if we're going to make a push we're going to have to start playing great and putting together some runs."
All season, it seems, the D-backs have been talking about going on a prolonged winning streak -- something they did in May 2011 and are convinced they can do again.
"Every day we come in here and we hold onto the fact that we're capable of doing that," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
The D-backs entered play Wednesday night 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Dodgers in the National League West.
"We have to just keep grinding," catcher Miguel Montero said. "It's frustrating because we had real high expectations for this year. That's just the way the game goes sometimes. We still have time, but time is getting shorter."
Gibson favors stricter penalties for PED use
ST. LOUIS -- As soon as he heard the news about Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson went to his computer to look at the numbers.
In nine games against the D-backs this year, Cabrera hit .462 (18-for-39) with three doubles, two homers, eight runs scored and six RBIs.
The D-backs entered play Wednesday night five games behind the second-place Giants and 5 1/2-games in back of the first-place Dodgers in the National League West.
"He's had a huge impact against us," Gibson said. "My understanding is he admitted to taking it and knew what he took and that's just not right. If you do something like that, in my mind, it should be much more severe."
Gibson said he would be in favor of a one-year suspension for those who test positive a first time and a lifetime ban after a second positive test.
"Part of me says that, enough already," Gibson said. "We've made a commitment to stopping that kind of activity and we still from time to time find that people are still trying to fool the system. Maybe they should consider a much stricter penalty. It's just bull. I would say the majority of the people who are in this game care about the integrity of the game. We're all committed to that and cleaning it up. Obviously there's not a big enough deterrent if it continues so I think the penalty needs to be much more severe."
Gibson alluded to the fact that this is not the first time the D-backs have been stung by someone who has tested positive for performance-enhancing substances. He cited 2008 when the D-backs were overtaken by the Dodgers and lost the NL West by two games after the Dodgers acquired Manny Ramirez.
During Spring Training the following year, Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance and received a 50-game suspension.
"Go back to 2008 and now we have the Manny thing," Gibson said. "Huge impact."
Left unsaid was the fact that Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun tested positive for a banned substance during last year's NL Division Series against the D-backs. Braun hit .500 with four doubles, a homer and four RBIs in the series, which the Brewers won three games to one.
Braun's suspension was overturned on appeal.
"It's disappointing," D-backs outfielder Jason Kubel said of Cabrera. "It's just unfortunate that there are guys still doing this."
Catcher Miguel Montero expressed similar sentiments.
"I'm just disappointed," Montero said. "I think he's a good-enough player that he doesn't need that stuff. I don't think he needs it. I don't know why he used it. I know the guy. I know he's a heck of a player. To see him going down this way is a disappointment."
Gibson calls for bunt drills after two miscues
ST. LOUIS -- After botching two bunt plays Tuesday night, the D-backs were on the field early Wednesday afternoon going over those exact plays.
"It's more of a review thing, it wasn't a punishment," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "It was just a review thing to make sure we're all on the same page."
The D-backs do have a new backup catcher in Wil Nieves and two new infielders in Ryan Wheeler and Jake Elmore, who were called up from Triple-A Reno. So Gibson wanted them to review the signs and go through their execution points.
"No," Gibson said when asked if he planned the afternoon practice session prior to the defensive struggles. "But after what happened last night we just thought we needed to do it."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.