Big inning dooms Diamondbacks in loss to Nationals
By BOB BAUM
PHOENIX (AP) PHOENIX - The Arizona Diamondbacks were cruising along behind their young ace as a dust storm swirled through downtown Phoenix.
Then the dust settled, the Diamondbacks fell apart, and the Washington Nationals won another one, thanks to a five-run fifth inning that featured two Arizona errors and a wild pitch.
The Nationals, who extended their season-best winning streak to eight games, sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning, and went on to beat the Diamondbacks 6-5 on Saturday night.
"It was really bad," Arizona catcher Miguel Montero said. "They got a couple of hits and then a ground ball that should be one out, then an error and then a throwing error by me. It was a mess."
Jesus Flores singled in the final and what proved to be the deciding run in the fifth. He also threw out Stephen Drew trying to steal second in the fourth, just the fifth time the beleaguered catcher has thrown out a base runner in 50 attempts.
Jayson Werth and Michael Morse each had an RBI double, and Ryan Zimmerman drove in two with a single in the uprising, a rally aided by two Arizona errors and a wild pitch by Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley (12-8).
"To play as poorly as we did, it hurts that much more," manager Kirk Gibson said. "We are capable of much better."
Edwin Jackson (7-7) got the win despite giving up five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.
"The runs we scored definitely backed up a bad outing by me," he said. "I guess it was just good enough to keep us close. The bullpen came in and did a good job, as always. We were able to get a win. It wasn't necessarily the way that I planned for it to go, but somehow it worked."
Tyler Clippard threw a perfect ninth for his 24th save in 28 tries.
The Nationals, with a major league-best 71-43 record, stayed 4 1-2 games ahead of Atlanta in the NL East. Arizona dropped five games behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West.
Miley went 4 1-3 innings, his shortest outing since June 30, and gave up six runs - four earned - and nine hits.
"It is very frustrating," he said. "You go out and the team gives you four runs early. It is on me. I couldn't keep the lead. It got ugly out there. It was a merry go round and I couldn't put an end to it."
The rookie left-hander was cruising with a 4-1 lead when things fell apart.
Steve Lombardozzi led off the fifth with a bunt single, took second on Jackson's sacrifice bunt, and scored when Werth doubled to right. Third baseman Chris Johnson couldn't handle Espinosa's sharp grounder, the ball careening off his glove into the outfield grass for an error that left runners at second and third.
Zimmerman followed with a single that brought home both runners to tie the game 4-4. Zimmerman took second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on the play when the catcher Montero threw wildly past second.
Morse's double brought in Zimmerman to put the Nationals ahead 5-4. Miley walked Adam LaRoche and was finished for the night, but the Nationals weren't.
Brad Bergeson got Tyler Moore to line out to center, but Flores singled in Morse to boost the lead to 6-4. Two of Washington's runs in the inning were unearned.
Arizona cut it to 6-5 in the sixth when Gerardo Parra singled with one out and scored on Ryan Wheeler's pinch-hit double off the center field wall.
While Washington had just one base runner, on a walk, in the final four innings, the Diamondbacks threatened in the seventh and eighth.
Hill led off the seventh with a double but Kubel struck out, then Paul Goldschmidt and Upton grounded out. Washington reliever Michael Gonzalez walked two of the first three he faced in the eighth. But pinch hitter Jake Elmore flied out in his major league debut, and Drew struck out.
"In the end, the seventh and eighth, we were 0-5 with runners in scoring position," Gibson said. "It is not like we didn't have our opportunities."
Notes: The Nationals improved to 39-21 on the road, by far the best in the majors. ... With LHP Mike Zagurski designated for assignment on Saturday, Arizona has no left-hander in the bullpen. ... A serious dust storm swept through downtown Phoenix during the game, some sifting through the cracks of Chase Field. ... Washington improved to 10-2 in August, best in the majors. ... Miley is 3-4 in his last seven starts. ... A pair of left-handers go in the series finale on Sunday, rookie Patrick Corbin (3-4, 3.53 ERA) for Arizona, and Ross Detwiler (6-4, 2.99) taking the mound for the Nationals.
Updated August 12, 2012