© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/10/09 2:36 AM ET
D-backs' bullpen falters, blows big lead
Lost seven-run lead is largest in team history; streak ends
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- A not-so-funny thing happened to the D-backs on their way to a laugher, and to a sixth consecutive victory. The rude awakening began with Marlins-struck balls flying into the seats, continued with balls worming their way under Arizona gloves and being thrown away by frustrated D-backs fielders, and ended in a what-just-happened? streak-busting defeat. Brett Carroll's eighth-inning pinch-hit three-run homer capped a persistent comeback from a 7-0 deficit Thursday night, and the Florida Marlins kept rolling to a 14-7 win over the D-backs at Chase Field. "It quickly went from a game we had complete control of to a disaster," said Arizona manager A.J. Hinch. "Once the wheels started coming off, they came off in a hurry." Fast, and in dubious record style -- the blown seven-run lead was the largest in Arizona team history, and that was still only part of the frustration, given the fact the D-backs held that lead relatively late, into the sixth. Carroll's one-out blow off Scott Schoeneweis (1-1), the fourth pitcher working in relief of Yusmeiro Petit, ended Arizona's five-game winning streak, its longest since last April. But it did not end what became a club-record 10-run inning for Florida, and more angst for an Arizona team that suffered flashbacks to its earlier woes. "It's just one of those things you don't try to figure out," said the Marlins' Dan Uggla, who had a season-high four singles, scored twice and had an RBI. "You just take it and roll with it." This game left everyone in the home clubhouse shaking his head, and no one was more stunned than Schoeneweis. Left in the game, in hopes of eliciting a double-play ball with his respected sinker, the veteran left-hander got imperfect results out of what he felt was the perfect pitch. "Fastball. Got it where I wanted it," Schoeneweis said softly. "I heard an odd sound off [Carroll's] bat. I thought I heard it crack. I'm pretty sure he broke it." He definitely broke the spirits of 21,558 fans with a drive over the fence in straightaway left. With a cracked bat? Is it possible? "I don't understand a lot of things at this point," Schoeneweis said. Who could? Yes, fans, the D-backs played only one game on Thursday night. The one in which they led 7-0 into the sixth behind Petit's three-hitter, and the one they lost by seven runs were one and the same. Chris Young's three RBIs and some clutch two-out hitting had built a 7-0 lead through five. Then Esmerling Vasquez escaped unscathed from a no-out, bases-loaded situation in the seventh. Everyone had a right to feel that the D-backs had survived the biggest threat to their winning streak. Then the same peril arose in the eighth. The Marlins jammed the bases against Juan Gutierrez on singles by Jeremy Hermida and pinch-hitter Hanley Ramirez sandwiched around a walk of John Baker. This mulligan had to feel unsettling in the home dugout. "I can't pinpoint an uh-oh moment," Hinch said. "But it was certainly discouraging." The worst moments actually followed Carroll's key homer, as a sequence of sordid plays kept building Florida's lead. "A weird game," Young said. "The Marlins kept finding holes. But you've just got to let it go, and get ready for the next one." Young had been part of a clutch fusillade that had arranged Petit's sizable lead. Petit had taken a shutout into the sixth before allowing Jorge Cantu's two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch and a solo shot by Hermida that ended his night. Justin Upton's 16th homer, a two-run blow in the first, gave the D-backs an early lead before they exploited a two-base throwing error by Emilio Bonifacio -- filling in at short as All-Star Ramirez missed his fifth straight start with a right hip flexor -- for four unearned runs in the third. Bonifacio at first dropped Felipe Lopez's leadoff grounder, then threw the ball past first. With two outs in the inning, Gerardo Parra singled in a run, Young tripled in two more, then Tony Clark's RBI double made it 6-0. Young plated another run with an infield groundout in the fifth. Chris Coghlan's RBI double in the seventh cut the D-backs' lead to 7-4. Ross Gload's force-play grounder delivered the first run of the eighth to cut Arizona's lead to 7-5. Then Carroll connected for Florida's first pinch-homer of the season. Though clearly in shock, Hinch sounded determined to not allow one bad night -- actually, two bad innings -- to level the confidence and pride erected the previous five games. "I don't want to make too much out of this," he insisted. "In the big picture, in the last week, we've represented ourselves well. We'll show up again tomorrow. And we've got Dan Haren going." "Baseball is a crazy game. No doubt, we'd played a good week," Young concurred, "and this is just one loss. And it's over now." Something told listeners, however, that it would continue to live through Hinch's sleepless night. "A tough loss, and I haven't yet had a chance to digest it," said the manager.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.