Heath Bell is one of the last closers anyone would expect to give up consecutive ninth-inning home runs. Then again, it's been that kind of a few weeks for the San Diego Padres.
Chris Young and Lyle Overbay homered off Bell to force extra innings, then Joe Thatcher walked Overbay on four pitches with the bases loaded to bring home the winning run in the 10th and give the Arizona Diamondbacks a 6-5 victory. Bell, with his fifth blown save in 41 tries, had allowed only two home runs all season.
"He's got a very high percentage, one of the highest in the game over the last three years," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "It happens to the best of them."
The Padres have lost 16 of 19 overall. At Chase Field, they've dropped 20 of 24.
"We do play hard," Black said. "We go at it every night. I am extremely proud of the effort each and every night. The last couple of weeks have been tough. They just haven't resulted in wins. As long as we keep fighting some things will go our way."
Arizona's ninth-inning uprising came seconds after the big screen showed Luis Gonzalez's ninth-inning bloop single against Mariano Rivera that gave Arizona its World Series triumph and the state's only major professional sports championship a decade ago. That team was honoured in a pre-game ceremony, a group that included Overbay, a Diamondbacks rookie in 2001.
"Tonight was the perfect night to play the game that we played," Young said. "You know, sold-out crowd, just all the energy from the 2001 championship team being here, it was amazing."
Elsewhere in the NL, it was: Chicago Cubs 5 N.Y. Mets 4; Colorado 12 Cincinnati 7; Florida 3 Pittsburgh 0; Houston 9 Washington 3; St. Louis 4 Atlanta 3; Philadelphia 3 Milwaukee 2 (10 innings); and L.A. Dodgers 3 San Francisco 0.
At Phoenix, the Diamondbacks stretched their franchise-record home winning streak to 15 games — the longest in the majors this season. They have won 16 of 19 overall.
It was the 42nd come-from-behind victory for the Diamondbacks, who widened their NL West lead over second-place San Francisco 9 1/2 games after the Giants lost at home to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Milwaukee also lost, so Arizona moved a half-game ahead of the NL Central-leading Brewers for a possible home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
"To be able to hit two home runs of Heath Bell, has that ever happened in the ninth inning?" Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson asked. "We were very fortunate to come back on a guy that's so good, who has had so much success, yet we did it."
The Padres protested the game because on the game-winning, bases-loaded walk Miguel Montero, who was on second, did not touch third base. However, crew chief Tim Welke said that the applicable rule requires only that the batter who walked touch first and the runner on third touch home.
"We think that all runners have to touch each base," Black said, "so we filed a protest and it is in the hands of MLB at this point."
James Darnell had three RBIs, including his first big league home run for the Padres.
"It was a great moment but I wish I could have dome more to help the team win. maybe get a couple of more hits or do something else," he said. "You always want to win the ball game but for me personally, it was a great moment."
San Diego's Chris Denorfia had four hits in five at bats.
Daniel Hernandez (4-3) threw a scoreless 10th for the victory. Brad Brach (0-1) took the loss.
San Diego carried a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth but it evaporated in a hurry against Bell, who had given up two home runs all season.
Young hit a 1-1 pitch into the left field seats to make it 5-4. Overbay connected on an 0-2 pitch to the opposite field, the ball barely clearing the fence in left field for his first home run since signing with Arizona as a free agent on Aug. 13.
Bell said that Overbay "probably used the speed of my pitch" to get the power he needed.
"He got good wood on it," Bell said. "I went inside, then back away. I thought it was a pretty good pitch. It was a pretty good pitch for him to hit out apparently."
In the 10th, Justin Upton drew a one-out walk from Brad Brach, then Miguel Montero singled to put runners at first and third. Geoff Blum was walked intentionally to bring up Young, who struck out on a 3-2 pitch. Bud Black brought in Thatcher, a sidearm-throwing lefty, to face the left-handed hitting Overbay, who walked on four pitches.
"I was disappointed in myself," Thatcher said. "That was definitely unacceptable."
Tim Stauffer threw 5 1-3 effective innings for San Diego and got an RBI on a suicide squeeze bunt but no decision.
Phillies 3, Brewers 2 (10 innings)
At Milwaukee, Raul Ibanez doubled and scored on LaTroy Hawkins' throwing error in the 10th inning, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Brewers for their sixth straight win.
Cardinals 4, Braves 3
At St. Louis, Lance Berkman had a single, RBI double and walk — reaching base seven straight times over two games — and the Cardinals inched closer in the NL wild card race by beating Atlanta.
Dodgers 3, Giants 0
At San Francisco, Dana Eveland combined with two relievers to throw a six-hitter, and Los Angeles delivered another blow to San Francisco's dismal playoff hopes with a victory over the defending World Series champions.
Cubs 5, Mets 4
At New York, Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run single with two outs in the ninth inning, rallying the Chicago Cubs past the Mets after they blew a three-run lead in the eighth Saturday.
Rockies 12, Reds 7
At Denver, Jordan Pacheco's first home run broke a fifth-inning tie and he added a two-run single in the eighth to lift the Rockies over Cincinnati.
Marlins 3, Pirates 0
At Pittsburgh, Anibal Sanchez pitched a one-hitter and tied his career high with 11 strikeouts to win for just the second time in 16 starts as Florida topped the Pirates.
Astros 9, Nationals 3
At Washington, Wandy Rodriguez earned his 11th win, and Carlos Corporan drove in three runs in Houston's victory over the Nationals.