08/30/08 2:23 AM ET
D-backs dump Dodgers in opener
Arizona ends four-game slide, extends lead to 4 1/2 games
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
So it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that the D-backs skipper Bob Melvin might view his team's 9-3 win over the Dodgers on Friday night differently than others.
"I thought it was artistic," Melvin said. "That's a nice win."
If you're grading strictly on a pass/fail basis, then it certainly was a good night for the D-backs. They ended a four-game losing streak and increased their lead over the fading Dodgers to 4 1/2 games in the National League West.
The misery continued for the Dodgers, who have lost eight straight and seem in danger of falling out of contention as August comes to a close.
But with due respect to Melvin, the game, which featured a combined 10 pitchers, 19 runners left on base, and took 3 hours, 39 minutes to play, was not a work of art.
It looked like the Dodgers' fortunes were going to change in the first when they loaded the bases against D-backs starter Doug Davis.
The left-hander bent, but didn't break, as he got James Loney to ground to short to end the threat.
"It was huge," D-backs catcher Chris Snyder said. "That's what I call a 'Doug Davis Special.' As quick as he works himself into it, he can get himself out."
It was a continuation of the struggles the Dodgers have had hitting with runners in scoring position and a sign of things to come on a night when they would go 2-for-8 in those situations with 10 men left on base.
Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda breezed through the first three innings without allowing a hit. With one out in the fourth, Chris Young broke through with a single and after a Conor Jackson flyout, Adam Dunn doubled to left to give Arizona a 1-0 lead.
The lead evaporated in the next half inning when the Dodgers were able to score a pair of runs on a sacrifice fly by Matt Kemp and an RBI single by Loney.
But as soon as Kuroda was given a lead to work with, his defense let him down.
A crucial error by shortstop Nomar Garciaparra opened the floodgates for the D-backs in the fifth as they scored three runs to take a 4-2 lead.
The Dodgers had a golden opportunity to get back in the game in the seventh, when pinch-hitter Blake DeWitt drove home Manny Ramirez with a one-out single to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Melvin then went to reliever Chad Qualls and after allowing a single to Kemp to put runners on first and second, the sinkerballer got Loney to ground into an inning-ending, rally-killing double play.
"That's the biggest out of the game," Melvin said. "That's the one that puts it back in our pocket. They had some guys on base and we get out of there holding the lead after what could have been a dicey inning."
There were plenty of smiles in the D-backs clubhouse after this one. Not only are they up by 4 1/2 with 28 to play, but they have their two aces, Dan Haren and Brandon Webb, going the next two days with a chance to crush the Dodgers' postseason hopes.
"These are huge games for us," said outfielder Jeff Salazar, who delivered a big pinch-hit RBI in the fifth. "So to be able to set a tone like we did and let them know that we're here to play. It's big for us. Once you've got someone down I've always been raised to not let your foot off them. Keep grinding, keep pushing. That's what we're going to keep doing."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.