PHOENIX — The working man’s approach worked again Tuesday.
It is like Aaron Hill said after his walk-off single with one out in the 10th inning gave the Diamondbacks a 10-9 victory over San Diego at Chase Field and their major league-leading 15th extra-inning victory of the season.
“We’re here,” Hill explained.
“Might as well do what we can do.”
If it were not so exhilarating, it might be getting monotonous.
The D-backs have all sorts of ways to quantify their perseverance. They have a major league-high 28 one-run victories, three more than No. 2 Oakland, and 38 comeback victories. They have won 29 games in their last at-bat, 15 at Chase Field.
Five of their last eight victories have come in extra innings, including a 12-7, 18-inning triumph in Philadelphia last Saturday that took a franchise-record seven hours, six minutes. They are one of four teams since 1920 to have played seven games of 14 or more innings.
“It’s fun. It’s almost like the playoffs. Every inning in an extra inning game means a whole lot,” winning pitcher Heath Bell said.
“As long as they are comeback victories, that’s fine.”
Hill had his second game-winning hit in two weeks after beating Baltimore with a 14th-inning single on Aug. 23, completing a walkoffs-R-us sweep that hurt the Orioles’ AL playoff chances.
Adam Eaton and Paul Goldschmidt singled to open the 10th, and after they advanced to second and third, San Diego manager Bud Black went to a five-man infield in an attempt to keep any ground ball from beating the Padres. Hill hit a line drive over the left fielder’s head.
“The whole at-bat I am looking for something up,” Hill said. “It doesn’t change my approach. You are still looking for something up you can get into the outfield. For us to keep battling back, it was fun.”
It never seemed as if it would come to that. Although the D-backs trailed 3-0 seven batters into rookie left-hander David Holmberg’s major league debut, Holmberg righted himself and did not allow further damage. Then the D-backs’ offense and reliever Josh Collmenter took over.
Gerardo Parra had a career-high five RBI with three-run home run in the second inning and a two-run single to cap a three-run fifth, and the D-backs stretched their lead to 7-3 when Prado walked with the bases loaded in the sixth.
While Ian Kennedy was roughed up in his return to Chase Field, the D-backs’ bullpen was, too, and the Padres tied the game with four runs in the eighth inning, then again with two more in the ninth after Prado’s two-run double in the eighth put the D-backs back in front.
The Padres’ rallies, however, only served to delay what has become the inevitable on a night in which remarkable defensive plays by Goldschmidt, shortstop Didi Gregorius and Prado stifled the Padres.
“We got used to this a long time ago,” Bell said. “Our motto is, find a way to do it. We really needed this one tonight. We made a couple of mistakes, but our offense stayed in there with us and never gave up and kept finding a way and kept pushing.
“It definitely shows character in the guys. You lose a game or two, especially this time of year, and you are like ‘Ahhhhh.’ Or the eighth inning, when we were up by four. Or the ninth inning. What are they going to do to us (relievers)? They didn’t care. They (hitters) were like ‘All right, we’ll pick you up today.’ We feel like the days our hitters don’t have it, we can pick them up.”
The D-backs gained a game on both the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and Cincinnati in the race for the second NL wild card and now trail the Reds by five, four in the loss column.
“We’re not done yet. We need to win tomorrow, too. We just have to keep winning,” Hill said.