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Bullpen can't seem to put out fires

The Sports Xchange
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The Diamondbacks were 84-0 when they led entering the ninth inning last season, one of the major contributing reasons for their 29-game improvement and NL West title in 2011. Things have not gone as smoothly this season.

Closer J.J. Putz gave up a two-run, walk-off home run to Washington shortstop Ian Desmond in the last of the ninth inning in a 5-4 loss Wednesday, the second two-run walk-off homer he has given up this season. Colorado's Todd Helton touched Putz in the ninth inning of the Rockies' 8-7 victory at Coors Field on April 14.

"I just made a bad pitch and he put it away," Putz said of Desmond's homer. "I was trying to get it down and away and I left it up, middle-in. Joe (Saunders) pitched his butt off. For the most part, I think I'm throwing well. I just left one pitch up. Game over."

Bryce Harper doubled off the right-center field fence to open the Nationals' ninth before Putz got consecutive strikeouts.

The D-backs are 4-2 on their 10-game trip after taking three of four games from Miami and splitting the first two games with Washington, but both of their losses have come in the ninth inning. The Marlins trailed 2-0 after 6 1/2 innings Saturday before scoring a run in each of the last three innings. Setup man David Hernandez failed to convert a save situation when he gave up a leadoff homer to Logan Morrison in the eighth inning.

Putz has five saves after getting a career-high 45 last season, but both he and Hernandez have two blown saves this season. Putz had only four failed conversions last season; Hernandez had three while getting 11 saves.

Pitching coach Charlie Nagy and a member of the training staff visited the mound during Putz's last appearance April 30, but Putz said later that the visit was unnecessary, that his disgust after missing with a pitch was misinterpreted.

The D-backs' bullpen five blown saves, tied for the NL high, and have given up an NL high 11 home runs in 69 2/3 innings. Their ERA is 4.65. Putz is 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in nine appearances.

"It won't be the last time it happens to us this year. We just have to bounce back. It's disappointing. We have to regroup," manager Kirk Gibson said.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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