D-backs extend their best run of the season
LOS ANGELES – Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson was honored and humbled when the Los Angeles Dodgers presented fans with a replica bobblehead depicting his 1988 World Series walk-off home run, complete with fist pump.
The D-backs ruined the party while giving Gibson two more homers to celebrate Tuesday, and the uber-efficiency that has marked Wade Miley in his breakout season helped Arizona to a 7-2 victory over the Dodgers.
Montero is having his best stretch of the season, and it is dovetailing nicely with the D-backs’. They secured their first road series victory in almost two months by winning the first two games against the Dodgers, who entered on a high after a three-game sweep in San Francisco over the weekend.
The D-backs have won nine of their last 12, the kind of run they have been looking for all season. The air of confidence appears to be back, although they were careful not to speak too quickly, even as the offense has found a groove.
“You hope so. I feel like every time we win a few games in a row this whole year, we’ve been saying we are about to get hot, and we haven’t been able to put it together for an extended time,” Goldshmidt said. “We’ve played good this year at times, we just haven’t been able to do it for two months straight or anything like that.
“We know what we have to do. We have to continue to do it. These guys (Dodgers) are good. The Giants are good. The other teams in possible wild-card situations are good. We have to play the best we can and see what happens.”
The D-backs (53-51) stayed 3½ games behind San Francisco in the NL West and gained a game on the Dodgers
Goldschmidt has gravitated into the cleanup spot the last few weeks, especially against left-handed pitchers, and for the second game in a row he gave the D-backs a lead in the first inning, this time with a two-out, two-run home run off Chris Capuano.
It was a trifecta of positive matchups for Goldschmidt – he is a .341 hitter with now 10 homers of his 15 against the NL West this season, he is a .385 hitter against lefties, and he entered 5-for-7 against Capuano. After two homers and a single, he is 8-for-10 with two homers.
Goldschmidt hit a breaking ball on a 1-2 pitch in the first inning, a pitch he had seen earlier in that at-bat.
“You can’t guess with two strikes. You are just trying to put something in play. I was able it see it out of his hands and it stayed up enough,” Goldschmidt said.
Goldschmidt’s third hit, a harmless-looking two-out single to right field in the sixth, started a D-backs’ rally that Justin Upton extended with a single and Montero capped with a three-run home run for a 5-1 lead.
Montero hit the first pitch after Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and his entire infield met on the mound after Capuano ran the count to 2-0. Ten seconds after the Dodgers’ roundtable discussion at the mound broke up, so did the game.
“Probably what he took him was, ‘Don’t walk him,'” Montero said, because right-hander hitting Chris Johnson was on deck. “So don’t walk me. He didn’t walk me.”
Montero has reached base safely in 22 of his last 31 plate appearances, with 11 hits. Since the start of the last homestand, he is hitting an even .400 with a .543 on-base percentage. He said it came after hearing teammates and coaches talk about Jason Kubel’s approach after Kubel hit three home runs against Houston on July 21. Kubel keeps his weight on his back foot, and he generates a lot of power that way.
“That’s been my whole approach. Pretty much my whole career. I kept looking, kept searching, couldn’t find it until they were talking it and mentioning it,” said Montero, who worked on it in the batting cage.
“I felt a little more weight on my back foot, and my hands were free. That’s when I started hitting the ball better.”
Miley (12-6) retired 12 straight after walking Matt Treanor in the second inning before Matt Kemp singled with two outs in the sixth inning. Miley then retired the next seven before leaving after eight innings and 110 pitches.
After giving up a home run to Mark Ellis, Miley cruised through the Dodgers’ lineup the second time through, striking out six of the next nine batters he faced, mixing it well. He got Matt Kemp on a slider, Andre Ethier on a fastball and Treanor on a changeup. He needed only eight pitches in the fifth, even with two strikeouts.
“He was phenomenal,” Montero said.
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