PHOENIX — It seemed Friday like Patrick Corbin’s luck had finally turned, as he left in the eighth inning down 1-0 to the Giants.
Then in stepped the Diamondbacks’ other All-Star candidate, Paul Goldschmidt.
Corbin dominated the Giants for 7 1/3 innings but left trailing behind a silent D-backs offense, but Goldschmidt bailed Corbin out with an opposite-field three-run home in the eighth inning to keep the left-hander undefeated and give the D-backs a 3-1 win.
“He’s been doing it all year for us,” Corbin said. “I’m just glad he’s on my team so I don’t have to face him.”
The feeling might be mutual. Corbin once again looked like the ace of the staff that beat every pitcher in the league to nine wins, but he fell shy of his 10th, a win that would have made him the first pitcher in D-backs history to go 10-0 to start the season. He’ll get another shot at it in L.A. next week against the Dodgers.
Corbin was coming off his worst start of the season, a four-run outing in Chicago that saw the offense get him to a win anyway by scoring eight runs. He rediscovered his form Friday to finish with one run allowed on seven hits and four strikeouts. His ERA sank to 1.98, third in the NL.
“I just thought I located a lot better today,” Corbin said. “I just got ahead like I did in my starts before, which was something I didn’t do at Wrigley.”
That Corbin had thrown such a gem — only exiting after allowing a one-out double to Marco Scutaro in the eighth inning — but was in line for a loss behind an offense that had not been shut out all season seemed bound to go down as just another of baseball’s cruelties.
“He’s been unbelievable for us this year,” Goldschmidt said. “When he came out of the game, we felt awful. We were trying to score for him. We had a couple opportunities early but weren’t able to come through.
“But that’s what it takes when you have those come-from-behind wins. You jus keep putting up zeros and give the offense a chance.”
In this case, it was giving Goldschmidt a chance. A.J. Pollock singled and Willie Bloomquist walked to put two on and set up Goldschmidt against Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt, who had not allowed a home run in one year and two days — since June 5, 2012 — and only one since the end of 2011.
“It was a dumb pitch,”Affeldt said of the fastball Goldschmidt launched over the right-field wall. “Dumb location, dumb selection, stupid.
“He is too hot of a hitter, and when you make dumb pitches and you throw to a dumb location, they are going to make you look bad.”
Affeldt also took full responsibility for the loss, which turned the tables on Giants starter Matt Cain, who had allowed one run and four hits in seven innings and was in line for the win.
The D-backs might insist Goldschmidt had something to do with the loss, too. The righty has been out-of-his-mind clutch of late with runners in scoring position, going 9 for his last 16 with three home runs and 20 RBI. He increased his NL RBI lead to 57, and with 15 home runs, he trails only Dominic Brown (18) and Carlos Gonzalez (17) in the NL.
What would Corbin have done in Affeldt’s situation, leading 1-0 with runners on first and second base?
“What would I do? Probably put him on in four (pitches),” Corbin joked. “It just seems any big moment, he comes through.”
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson was quick to recall last Saturday’s game against the Cubs that saw Goldschmidt start out 0 for 3 with three strikeouts and a walk before hitting the decisive grand slam. Before his homer Friday, Goldschmidt was 0 for 3, grounding into two double plays and striking out.
“He’s just special,” Gibson said. “He really is.”
The D-backs are now 12-0 in games Corbin pitches and 11-2 in games Goldschmidt homers.
Though Goldschmidt is the first to remind everyone he fails more than he succeeds — that’s just how baseball is — it might be time to revise the old saying about certainties in life: death, taxes, Corbin and Goldschmidt.