D-backs' Hill hits for cycle
Aaron Hill had been in position to hit for the cycle a handful times and had been unable to finish it off.
Needing a homer just two weeks after his latest failed attempt, Hill told himself to relax, look for a good pitch to hit.
He did, and finished with a flurry.
Hill hit a solo homer in the seventh inning to become the fifth Arizona player to hit for the cycle, lifting the Diamondbacks to a 7-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
''You just have to take a deep breath,'' Hill said. ''It's something you can easily get excited about and try to do a little too much. It's something where, you've been here before, just get up there, see some pitches and put a good swing on it.''
It wasn't that long ago Hill found himself in the same position.
Needing a double at home against Colorado on June 5 to complete his first cycle in the majors — he had one in college — he couldn't come through, striking out with two runners on.
Hill put himself in position for another chance by hitting a single in the first inning off Hector Noesi (2-8), a triple in the third and a double off the Mariners starter in the fifth.
This time, he finished it off in style, hitting a one-out, solo homer off Shawn Kelley in the seventh for the majors' second cycle this season. New York Mets outfielder Scott Hairston had the other one, against the Colorado Rockies on April 27
It was the first cycle by a Diamondbacks player since Kelly Johnson did it against San Francisco on July 23, 2010. Stephen Drew (2008), Greg Colbrunn (2002) and Luis Gonzalez (2000) also hit for the cycle with the Diamondbacks. Unlike his predecessors, Hill did it in four at-bats.
Seattle hadn't allowed a player to hit for the cycle since Oakland's Miguel Tejada did it on Sept. 29, 2001, at Seattle.
''Good player, I have seen it for a long time. A powerful player. He gives himself a chance,'' Mariners manager Eric Wedge. ''It looks like he is seeing the ball. If you make a mistake like we did tonight, he is going to make you pay for it.''
Arizona also tied a team record with four sacrifice flies, giving Wade Miley (8-3) more than enough run support.
The Diamondbacks rookie left-hander and Noesi were both coming off hard-luck losses.
Noesi allowed a run on five hits in seven innings of a 1-0 loss to San Diego last Thursday, extending his losing streak to a career-high four games.
Miley gave up a run three hits in 7 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts in a 1-0 loss to Texas the same day.
Neither was nearly as sharp this time.
Justin Upton drove in one with Arizona's third straight opening single off Noesi in the first inning, then Jason Kubel and Paul Goldschmidt each hit sacrifice flies to put the Diamondbacks up 3-0 and end their scoreless streak at 21 innings.
Upton added a sacrifice fly in the third inning, Miguel Montero another in the sixth and Josh Bell made it 6-1 with a run-scoring single later in the inning.
Noesi allowed six runs — five earned — on nine hits in six innings.
''I have to be smarter. I have to be more consistent,'' Noesi said. ''The last start was better. I was more aggressive.''
Miley worked through traffic the first five innings, thanks to seven strikeouts, before Casper Wells drove in Seattle's first run with a run-scoring double in the sixth. Dustin Ackley followed with a single to left with two outs, but Kubel threw a one-hop strike to get Wells at the plate to end the inning.
Miley again found trouble in the seventh, getting out of it this time with the help of a diving stop by Bell at third and Montero nabbing Miguel Olivo at second on a strike-out, throw-out double play to end the inning.
''I felt like I was throwing ball after ball, kind of battling it a little bit,'' Miley said after allowing a run on nine hits and matching a career high with eight strikeouts in seven innings. ''But I stuck with the game plan and battled through it.''
Miley did his job and Hill provided the punctuated Arizona's bust-out game offensively by lifting Kelley's 1-0 pitch just over the wall in left-center. Hill tried to hold back his emotions as he rounded the bases, breaking out in a smile only after he crossed the plate. When the crowd called him out for a curtain call, well, there was no doubt he was going out — this was a cycle, after all.
''That's a special thing,'' Hill said. ''Obviously, the fans are here for us and have been here all year, so it was nice for them to recognize something.''
NOTES: Seattle RF Ichiro Suzuki, who's one hit away from No. 2,500, was given the night off. ... Arizona also had four sacrifice flies on May 18, 2003, against the Pirates. ... Diamondbacks RHP Daniel Hudson, Tuesday's starter for the second game of the series, is 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts since coming off the DL. ... RHP Erasmo Ramirez, Seattle's starters against Hudson, will make his second career start in the majors and ninth appearance. He allowed five earned runs on eight hits in five innings against San Diego last week.