|Arizona (86-62) «||0||0||0||0||0||5||0||2||0||7||9||1|
|L.A. Dodgers (72-74)||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||2||6||0|
LOS ANGELES -- The Arizona Diamondbacks' mantra all season has been to keep pushing, a familiar refrain used by manager Kirk Gibson. They haven't let up one bit.
Gerardo Parra tied a career high with four RBIs to back seven strong innings by Joe Saunders and the Diamondbacks rode a five-run sixth inning to a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night, reducing their magic number to seven for clinching the NL West title.
Arizona, vying for the fifth division crown in the franchise's 14-year history, is 17-3 following a season-worst six-game losing streak. The win put the Diamondbacks 24 games over .500, matching their season best.
|More on D-Backs at Dodgers|
"It's been a good run, but we've got to keep pushing because nothing's guaranteed," Gibson said. "You grow as a team, and certain things help you grow. K.T. (general manager Kevin Towers) has done a great job of fine-tuning what we thought some of our weaknesses were."
The Diamondbacks' fortunes have changed dramatically since July 29, when they came to Dodger Stadium for a three-game series and acquired starter Jason Marquis and reliever Brad Ziegler on consecutive days in trades with Washington and Oakland before leaving Los Angeles. Since then, they have gone 28-14 to turn a four-game deficit into an 8 1/2-game lead over San Francisco.
"Some of the finer points in the game of baseball we're starting to utilize more than we had earlier in the year, and there's a lot more communication," Gibson said. "We had our advance meeting today and some of the veteran guys spoke up about some things that we're looking for that are going to help us in the future."
Saunders (11-12) allowed four hits, struck out four and walked one. The only runs against the left-hander came on Matt Kemp's first-inning homer and an RBI single by rookie Jerry Sands, who had three hits.
"My goal tonight was to throw strikes and try not to walk anybody," said Saunders, who retired 13 in a row at one point. "I ended up walking the leadoff guy in the seventh and he scored, so I wasn't too happy about that. But I tried to mix speeds up against a good lineup, and luckily they hit it at our guys and they were making the plays."
Saunders, coming off a 5-3 win at Colorado, has won consecutive starts for the first time since late July. But his 3.83 ERA indicates that he's been pitching better than his won-lost record would otherwise suggest.
"On a personal level, there have been a lot of peaks and valleys," Saunders said. "There was a big valley to start the year, and I've been treading pretty much uphill the whole time, just to get back to where I can be. I can't take back my 0-5 start, but you make up for lost time and do the best you can. So my goal right now is just to finish strong and keep our lead where it's at going into the postseason."
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the ninth, when Alberto Castillo hit pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. with a 2-2 pitch after Bryan Shaw gave up a pair of two-out singles. But J.J. Putz retired Dee Gordon on a grounder to get his 39th save in 43 chances.
Ted Lilly (9-14) was charged with three runs, three hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. He did not allow a hit until Ryan Roberts lined a 3-2 pitch over the head of third baseman Aaron Miles with one out in the fifth.
"He threw the ball well, but nothing seemed to work out tonight," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It's frustrating."
The Diamondbacks finally broke through in the sixth, grabbing a 5-1 lead and chasing Lilly. Willie Bloomquist led off with a bloop single and came all the way around on Aaron Hill's double into the left-field corner. After an intentional walk to Justin Upton, Hill got a huge jump on Lilly and stole third.
That was all for the left-hander, who departed after 101 pitches with a 1-1 count on Paul Goldschmidt. The rookie lined Matt Guerrier's first pitch to left for an RBI single, and Roberts chased Guerrier with another run-scoring single with the bases loaded after a walk to Chris Young.
The Dodgers, beginning their final homestand of the season, took the lead with Kemp's two-out homer. It was his 33rd of the season and it increased his RBI total to 108 - the most by a Dodger in both categories since 2004, when Adrian Beltre had 48 homers and 121 RBI.
"He's a good hitter, so what are you going to do? I tried to make some pitches against him and they missed, so I had to come over the plate," Saunders said. "It was a good pitch, I thought, but he's a strong guy and he's got good pop the opposite way. But it only counts as one."
|Players of the Game|
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|Willie Bloomquist, SS||5||1||1||0||0||1||1||.270|
|Aaron Hill, 2B||5||1||1||1||0||2||1||.241|
|Justin Upton, RF||4||1||0||0||1||1||0||.296|
|Miguel Montero, C||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.278|
|Paul Goldschmidt, 1B||4||2||2||1||0||0||1||.256|
|Chris Young, CF||2||2||1||0||2||1||0||.231|
|Ryan Roberts, 3B||4||0||2||1||0||2||3||.255|
|Gerardo Parra, LF||3||0||2||4||1||0||1||.295|
|Joe Saunders, P||2||0||0||0||0||2||2||.218|
|a- Sean Burroughs, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.265|
|Joe Paterson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Bryan Shaw, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Alberto Castillo, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|J.J. Putz, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-struck out for Saunders in the 8th|
|2B - Aaron Hill (23, Lilly), Chris Young (34, MacDougal), Gerardo Parra (18, MacDougal)|
|SH - Joe Saunders (2)|
|RBI - Aaron Hill (55), Paul Goldschmidt (21), Ryan Roberts (55), Gerardo Parra 4 (41)|
|2-OUT RBI - Gerardo Parra 2 (10)|
|SB - Aaron Hill (18, 3rd base off Lilly/Barajas)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|E - Willie Bloomquist (5, Misplayed grounder)|
|Joe Saunders (W,11-12)||7||4||2||2||1||4||1||3.83|
|J.J. Putz (S,39)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.44|
|HBP - Gwynn (by Alberto Castillo)|
|WP - Joe Saunders (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Joe Saunders 97-63, Joe Paterson 10-5, Bryan Shaw 22-15, Alberto Castillo 5-2, J.J. Putz 3-2|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Saunders 10-8, Bryan Shaw 2-1, J.J. Putz 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Joe Saunders 27, Joe Paterson 2, Bryan Shaw 6, Alberto Castillo 1, J.J. Putz 1|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Dee Gordon, SS||5||0||0||0||0||0||3||.269|
|James Loney, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||.277|
|Matt Kemp, CF||4||1||2||1||0||1||1||.318|
|Juan Rivera, RF||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||.265|
|Aaron Miles, 3B||3||1||0||0||1||1||1||.281|
|Rod Barajas, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.235|
|Jerry Sands, LF||4||0||3||1||0||0||0||.203|
|Jamey Carroll, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.286|
|Ted Lilly, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.078|
|Matt Guerrier, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Scott Elbert, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Josh Lindblom, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Russ Mitchell, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.143|
|Mike MacDougal, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Nate Eovaldi, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.091|
|b- Tony Gwynn Jr., PH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.259|
|a-fouled out for Lindblom in the 7th|
|b-hit by pitch for Eovaldi in the 9th|
|HR - Matt Kemp (33, Saunders)|
|RBI - Matt Kemp (108), Jerry Sands (19)|
|2-OUT RBI - Matt Kemp (39)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Carroll-Gordon-Loney|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Ted Lilly (L,9-14)||5.1||3||3||3||3||5||0||4.39|
|IBB - Upton by Ted Lilly|
|HBP - Montero (by Ted Lilly)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Ted Lilly 99-62, Matt Guerrier 14-7, Scott Elbert 11-8, Josh Lindblom 17-12, Mike MacDougal 21-14, Nate Eovaldi 13-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ted Lilly 5-5, Nate Eovaldi 3-0|
|Batters Faced - Ted Lilly 22, Matt Guerrier 3, Scott Elbert 2, Josh Lindblom 3, Mike MacDougal 6, Nate Eovaldi 3|
|Attendance - 30616|
|Game Time - 3:31|
|Temperature - 70|
|Umpires - Home - Jeff Nelson, First Base - Marty Foster, Second Base - Bill Welke, Third Base - Tim Tschida|