|Dan Haren: Nine more strikeouts, but no decision.|
By playing a solid nine innings of baseball Wednesday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks helped keep the race to win the National League West an interesting one. In their 4-3 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field, Dan Haren was excellent, the defense was airtight, and strikeout king Mark Reynolds showed amazing patience at the plate in the game's defining at-bat. The results: The D-Backs ended a six-game losing streak and cut the Dodgers' lead over the Colorado Rockies to 2.5 games in the suddenly tight NL West.
In the bottom of the ninth, with the score tied 3-3, pinch hitter Gerardo Parra reached second base after relief pitcher Ramon Troncoso threw wide to first on a grounder. Then Ryan Roberts executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move pinch runner Trent Oeltjen to third. At this point, Dodgers manager Joe Torre saw a way out of the mess in the form of free-swinging Mark Reynolds, who was waiting in the hole. Torre intentionally walked Stephen Drew and Justin Upton to load the bases. With two strikes on him, Reynolds took two pitches that easily could've been called strikes but that home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt judged as balls. In the end, Reynolds' keen eye led to a game-winning, bases-loaded walk. Game over.
The D-Backs could've put the game away in the bottom of the eighth, when they had runners on first and second with no outs. But Chris Young, who'd hit his 12th homer earlier in the game, failed on a sacrifice bunt attempt, Eric Byrnes popped out to left, and Rusty Ryal grounded into a fielder's choice. It was an inning like many in this lost season, when the D-Backs simply didn't execute when given the opportunity to score.
Dan Haren continued his Cy Young-quality season, giving up three runs (including back-to-back homers to Manny Ramirez and James Loney) on five hits in seven-plus innings. He also struck out nine Dodgers to increase his season total to 197, third-best in the National League. His ERA dropped to 2.82, but that's still seventh-best in the NL.
Another positive to come out of the D-Backs' win was the stellar hitting by catcher Miguel Montero, who went 3-for-3 with his 14th home run and a double. He is now batting .304 on the year and is looking like one of the D-Backs' best all-around hitters. Montero, of course, split the catching duties with Chris Snyder for much of the first part of the season. With a full season under his belt, Montero could be the best-hitting catcher in the National League.