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Kirk Gibson: J.J. Putz is Diamondbacks' closer

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

SAN DIEGO – Roughed up in three consecutive games heading into a weekend series here, the Diamondbacks on Friday professed faith in their bullpen and manager Kirk Gibson says he will stick with J.J. Putz as closer.

The Diamondbacks were swept at home this week by the Giants in one of those disheartening series where the bullpen keeps kicking it away. They were tied 4-4 in the seventh Monday before surrendering two runs in the eighth to lose, then Arizona blew late leads both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Brad Ziegler took Monday's loss, Putz was charged with a blown save and a loss Tuesday and David Hernandez was charged with a blown save and a loss on Wednesday.

Consequently, Thursday's off day was especially welcome, Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said.

“It couldn't have come at a better time,” he said.

Putz already has four blown saves in 2013 after suffering only five all of last season.

Gibson said Friday that an important key for Arizona is to get Putz back on track. The manager, noting the times he's had Putz warm in the bullpen, took the blame for maybe pushing Putz a little too hard in the early going and said he needs to back off of the closer at times.

Noting that Putz is 36, Gibson said he needs to monitor things more closely and give Putz a better chance to succeed.

“J.J. is my closer,” Gibson said.

Hernandez and former All-Star closer Heath Bell also have experience closing and are options when Putz isn't.

Either way, Gibson right now is treading a very fine line. A total of 20 of Arizona's first 28 games have have been decided by two or fewer runs. Every night has been a battle, and as Towers noted, that leaves precious little time for a reliever who falls into bad habits to fix them between games with pitching coach Charles Nagy.

“Charles can't even get out there and work with a guy on touch and feel because he may be pitching that day,” Towers said.

The GM was philosophical about the beating the Diamondbacks endured at home by the Giants this week.

“Give them credit,” Towers said. “They're the world champions. … They're a good team, especially late and close. They take advantage of mistakes. They've made a living on winning games like that.”

The Diamondbacks have lost four of six to the Giants so far in 2013. Three of those six games have been one-run contests, and two have been two-run affairs.

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