On a night when Arizona celebrated its Game 7 World Series thriller of a decade ago, the 2011 Diamondbacks managed some ninth-inning heroics of their own.
Chris Young and Lyle Overbay hit consecutive home runs off Heath Bell in the ninth to send the game into extra innings, then Joe Thatcher walked Overbay on four pitches in the 10th to bring in the winning run in Arizona’s 6-5 victory over the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.
Overbay, who had the winning hit Friday night, had the distinction of being part of the pregame and postgame celebration, because he was a Diamondbacks rookie in 2001.
The 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.
”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.”
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 Los Angeles. 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 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,” manager Bud 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, who have lost 16 of 19. San Diego’s Chris Denorfia had four hits in five at bats.
Arizona’s first sellout at Chase Field since the home opener (48,017) showed up for a pregame ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Diamondbacks’ World Series triumph over the New York Yankees.
Bell, on the same field where he famously slid into the mound at this year’s All-Star Game, blew a save for the fifth time in 41 opportunities.
”I didn’t do my job big-time,” he said.
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.
”That I didn’t do my job
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.
”It’s one of those things where I knew he was going to try to throw the fastball. He just got beat by CY with the slider,” Overbay said. ”He elevated the pitch before, so I thought he might do that again. It just didn’t get as high maybe as he wanted.”
Bell said that Overbay ”probably used the speed of my pitch” to get the power he needed.
”He got good wood on it,” he 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.
Tim Stauffer threw 5-1/3 effective innings for San Diego and got an RBI on a suicide squeeze bunt but no decision.
At their request, the Diamondbacks wore their throwback purple uniforms for the second game in a row as part of their weekend honor of the 2001 team. The crowd cheered wildly for members of that team during a pregame ceremony that included the World Series co-MVPs Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, who threw out the ceremonial first pitches. Schilling’s sailed over the head of his 2001 catcher Damian Miller.
After Darnell’s home run off starter Wade Miley put San Diego up 4-2, Luis Martinez doubled, and Micah Owings relieved Miley. Alberto Gonzalez flew out to bring up Stauffer, who laid down a perfect bunt as Martinez barreled home from third, boosting the lead to 5-2. The Diamondbacks made it 5-3 in the sixth when Upton singled and Montero extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a double high off the center field wall. Geoff Blum’s groundout brought Upton home but Montero was out at the plate attempting to score when a pitch from reliever Anthony Bass got past the catcher Martinez.
Aaron Hill and Upton singled off Chad Qualls to start the eighth but Montero grounded into a double play. Bell sprinted in to replace Qualls and got Blum to ground out to end the inning.
Notes: The leadoff batter reached base safely for San Diego in five of the first six innings and two of them scored. … The Padres 2B Gonzalez made a leaping grab to rob Aaron Hill of a base hit in the first. … Arizona is 24 games above .500 for the first time since Aug. 4, 2002. … Rookie Josh Colmenter goes for his 10th victory for Arizona and San Diego sends left-hander Wade LeBlanc (2-5) to the mound in the finale of the four-game series on Sunday. … The teams have three games remaining against each other next weekend in San Diego. … The Diamondbacks’ home-winning streak is the longest in the majors since 2004.