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09/12/06 2:10 AM ET
D-Backs' power not enough vs. Nats
Arizona's four homers overshadowed by 10 walks allowed
By Lindsey Frazier / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- It's become routine. For the fourth time this season, the Nationals pulled off a come-from-behind win over the Diamondbacks. The most recent one came on Monday night at Chase Field as the Nats scored a run in the ninth to break through a tie game as they defeated Arizona, 7-6, in front of 29,610. Just a week ago, the D-Backs were swept by the Nationals at RFK Stadium as Washington won every game on late-inning rallies. "It's similar to some of those games in D.C.," said Arizona manger Bob Melvin. "It's a good feeling early on, we score some runs, we hit the ball out of the ballpark and all of sudden, one big inning gets us." "It's been a frustrating year up to this point," said Damion Easley of the fourth-place D-Backs' 68-76 mark. "We're going to keep trying to battle back and keep trying to build on the positive note and hopefully that will carry over into next season." In the ninth on Monday, Luis Vizcaino (4-5) gave up a pair a singles to Felipe Lopez and Ryan Zimmerman to begin the inning. After an intentional walk to Austin Kearns, Vizcaino went threw three straight balls to Jose Vidro. After getting Vidro to foul off a pitch, Vizcaino threw a low fastball, which was called a ball by home-plate umpire James Hoye as Vidro walked for only the second time in 69 plate appearances to bring home the winning run. The Arizona reliever then induced an unorthodox 1-2-3 double play to get out of the inning, but the damage was done. After walking Vidro, Vizcaino threw his arms up in the air in frustration. "For me, it was a pretty good pitch, but for the umpires, I missed a little bit," Vizcaino said. "Looking at the video afterward, [it was at] the bottom of the knee," Melvin said. "It certainly looks like a pitcher's pitch, but he didn't see it that way." Vizcaino has been one of the Diamondbacks' most reliable arms out of the 'pen for much of the season. He had not given up a run since Aug. 26 -- a string of 5 2/3 innings. "[He's] been as good as anybody we have right now," Melvin said. With Arizona trailing, 6-4, in the eighth, winning pitcher Jon Rauch (4-4) issued a leadoff walk to first baseman Conor Jackson. Easley made him pay as he hit a 3-2 offering 385 feet into the left-field bleachers to tie the game. "I was just trying to hit the ball hard and just trying to put the barrel on it and try to get a good pitch to hit," Easley said. "We've played them four times now, and they've come back late, took all four games from us. Obviously, we're well aware of that, but we don't go up there thinking about it." Although Claudio Vargas walked five batters in the first three innings, the free passes surprisingly did not catch up with the right-hander. He pitched well through six innings, having only given up two runs at that point. But after allowing a leadoff single in the seventh to pinch-hitter Bernie Castro and a walk to Alfonso Soriano, Vargas was pulled for reliever Brandon Lyon. "[Vargas] did his job," Melvin said. "He puts the first two guys on in the seventh, and now it's the bullpen's time to pick him up. It just didn't happen." Lyon then allowed a walk that was followed by a Nick Johnson single, scoring two runs to tie the game at 4. After walking Kearns, Vidro hit a two-run single up the middle to put the Nats ahead, 6-4. "He did get two balls on the ground, granted they're up the middle," Melvin said of Lyon, who also gave up a run and four walks while taking the loss on Sept. 2 against Washington. "A step either way -- especially the first one on Johnson -- it's got a chance to be two [outs]. That's his job right there, is to try to get on the ground." The D-Backs played long ball early on as well, as Jackson led off the second inning with a home run to left field. One batter later, Chris Snyder followed suit with a homer to left. Rookie center fielder Chris Young got in on the act with his second career home run, this one to dead center to begin the third.
Lindsey Frazier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.