PHOENIX — First, a dash of dirt. Next, a sprinkling of water. A little hand mixing and pretty soon Willie Bloomquist was covered in mud.
The year of the dirty walk-off is getting awfully messy in the desert.
Bloomquist lined his third hit for a run-scoring single in the 10th inning and the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrated with what has become their typical grimy walk-off celebration after beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 on Wednesday.
“They’re taking the walk-off celebration to a whole new level,” the freshly showered Bloomquist said. “I’ll be pulling dirt out of my hair from now until the end of the season.”
The Diamondbacks have gone through an up-and-down season, leaving their playoff hopes clinging by a thread.
When it comes to pulling off the walk-off, they’ve been one of baseball’s best.
Against the Blue Jays, Arizona rallied from a three-run deficit after shaky first inning by Randall Delgado. Diamondbacks pitchers faced the minimum from then until the 10th inning, when Will Harris (3-0) worked around a baserunner to keep the game tied in Arizona’s franchise record-tying 21st extra-inning game.
Eric Chavez got the final rally started by blooping a single off Luis Perez (0-1) and pinch-runner Adam Eaton moved to third on A.J. Pollock’s single off Jeremy Jeffress.
Late on a previous pitch by Jeffress, Bloomquist lined a 1-2, 100-mph fastball off the right-hander through the right side of Toronto’s drawn-in infield, sending his teammates rushing onto the field.
It was Arizona’s 13th walk-off hit of the season and the fourth career for Bloomquist, a veteran who didn’t seem to particularly enjoy his teammates’ pigpen antics.
“I don’t think Bloomquist liked it, but he’s usually miserable, anyway,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “We’re like, `C’mon, Willie, get dirty.’ It’s a meek sacrifice to get the game-winner in my mind. It’s a minimal sacrifice.”
Rajai Davis homered for the second straight game, a two-run shot, and Edwin Encarnacion added a run-scoring double in the first inning off Delgado.
After that, the Blue Jays went quietly.
Delgado retired 13 straight batters after the first inning and Toronto became the first team to leave no runners on base in an extra-inning game since Cincinnati on July 20, 1970, at St. Louis, according to STATS Inc.
“Delgado really settled in after we put up three on him,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He started locating his pitches, limited his mistakes.”
Delgado allowed three runs on four hits with six strikeouts.
Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle had a similar outing.
Matt Davidson ended Buehrle’s scoreless streak at 14 innings with an RBI double in the second inning and Miguel Montero followed with another double to cut Toronto’s lead to 3-2.
The left-hander shook off the shaky inning, working around a pair of baserunners in the third inning before retiring 10 of the next 11 batters.
Buehrle was lifted after a walk and a single in the seventh inning, and Chavez followed with a sacrifice fly off Sergio Santos that tied the game at 3-all.
Buehrle allowed three runs — two earned — on five hits in 6 1-3 innings.
“It was a good outing,” Gibbons said. “He probably regrets walking Davidson to lead off that inning. He was looking for a strikeout and they got the hit, then Chavez came through. It was just one of those games.”
One of those games the Diamondbacks seem to love.
The NL West leader for most of the season’s first half, Arizona has labored since the All-Star break while the Los Angeles Dodgers have surged ahead. Even with the win, the Diamondbacks were 13 games behind the Dodgers in the division and eight behind the Reds in the NL wild- card race.
If only all their games went to extra-innings or came down to the last at-bat; Arizona is 16-5 in extra-inning games this season and has 13 wins in its last at-bat.
“Obviously, we’d like to get it done in nine, but if it takes long, it takes longer,” Bloomquist said. “As long as we come out on top.”
Even if it means getting dirty.
NOTES: Members of the Arizona Rattlers appeared before the game with the Arena Football League championship trophy before the game. The Rattlers won their second straight ArenaBowl on Aug. 17. … Arizona 3B Martin Prado was picked as the NL Player of the Month for August on Wednesday after hitting .374 with four homers and 30 RBIs. … Toronto starters have allowed three runs or less in seven straight outings. … Arizona opens a four-game road series against San Francisco on Thursday. RHP Trevor Cahill will start the opener after going 2-0 with a 3.22 ERA his previous four starts. … Toronto has a day off before starting a three-game series at Minnesota. RHP R.A. Dickey will pitch against Twins RHP Mike Pelfrey in the opener on Friday.