D-backs open 10-game homestand with a thud

PHOENIX – The Diamondbacks ran into another one of those “check yourself” games Monday, as manager Kirk Gibson has called them.

The kind you forget about and move on.

Miami ruined the start of the D-backs’ last long homestand of the season with a 12-3 victory fueled by four home runs, two by Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins had 20 hits, 10 in a nine-run fourth inning, and broke the D-backs’ four-game winning streak, the longest in the NL.

It was a major thud to taint the start of what could be an invigorating stretch. Cincinnati is the only team with a winning record on the 10-game homestand that includes four games against Miami and three against San Diego, and the D-backs understand the significance as they try gain ground on flip-flopping NL West leaders San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“It’s important. No question. We’re further back than we’d like to be. The focus seems to be on the Dodgers and the Giants. That would be a good thing for us. We just need to worry about ourselves,” Gibson said.

The D-backs have played 39 of the last 41 days, and are in a stretch in which they will play 53 games in 55 days. At times it has taken something out of them, although they arrived at park the Monday with positive momentum after beating St. Louis with two ninth-inning home runs Thursday and sweeping Houston over the weekend.

Jason Kubel’s first inning homer gave Joe Saunders a 1-0 lead, but things got out of hand in the fourth inning, when Miami sent 12 batters to the plate and scored nine runs on 10 hits.

Saunders gave up a career-high nine earned runs in that inning, although it did not start out that way.

The Marlins opened with a limp. After Donovan Solano hit a soft single to center, Jose Reyes looped a ball into short right field just over Aaron Hill’s head. Carlos Lee’s single was even wimpier. With Reyes breaking for second, Hill followed, and Lee hit a jam-shot looper into the area that Hill vacated. Solano scored, even though the ball did not make the outfield grass.

Then the real damage began, when Stanton and Ruggiano hit identical 442-foot home runs. Stanton’s landed in the second row of Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill and Ruggiano’s snuck into the camera cutouts in the center field fence. Stanton and John Buck homered in the seventh.

“It was some bad luck, and an unraveling inning,” Saunders said.

“Still making pitches. I felt the only bad pitch I made was to Stanton, and he hit it about five miles. (Bleep) happens. All you can do is make your pitches, and whatever happens, happens. You have to turn the page quick.”

The D-backs (62-60) have been good at turning the page this season, a trait that has helped them through a bumpy season. The positive clubhouse atmosphere that characterized their run to the 2011 NL West title has carried over, and losses do not seem to linger. The D-backs are 5 ½ games behind the Giants today, but still have nine games remaining against them and six others against the Dodgers.

“I feel like we have a year’s stability under our belts to hang in there,” Gibson said.

“You look back over the season, many times when I think many people thought we were going to go away. We were going to lose our composure and change our tack and what we were playing for, but that hasn’t happened. I think that’s a good sign. We get frustrated, don’t get me wrong. We make mistakes. We lose games. We give games away that we should win.

“But we don’t get mad about it. You just have to check yourself and get back on task. I think this team has been pretty good at that.”

The D-backs, who solved Mark Buehrle for eight hits and seven runs in four innings April 30, were not as successful this time. Kubel’s homer in the first and Chris Johnson’ RBI-single in the fourth were all they could muster.

Justin Upton homered against Buehrle in the D-backs’ 9-5 victory the last meeting, and he had two singles. But Miami got production from all over. Reyes and Buck had four hits apiece and Stanton had four RBIs. Solano, Reyes and Carlos Lee had two hits apiece in the fourth.


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