Blunders leave Arizona in hole

Associated Press
Colorado's Willy Taveras (left) drew a walk as Ryan Spilborghs headed home in the 11th inning to score the game-winning run. Taveras also made a diving catch earlier in the game to rob Arizona's Tony Clark of a base hit and derail a possible rally.

PHOENIX - Two losses away from elimination, the Arizona Diamondbacks insist they aren't pressing.


"We're playing the same we've played all season," rookie Justin Upton said. "We haven't changed anything."

But the results have changed for the team that won the most games in the National League.

Arizona's 3-2, 11-inning loss to the Colorado Rockies on Friday night left the Diamondbacks in a 2-0 hole as the best-of-seven National League Championship Series heads to Denver.

Even after a disappointing defeat in front of a towel-waving crowd of 48,219 fans, the Diamondbacks wouldn't admit that their lack of postseason experience may be catching up to them.

"We're still playing with confidence," said closer Jose Valverde, who walked in the winning run.

But they're not playing with intelligence, one of their trademarks this year.

Stephen Drew had a costly mistake in the ninth. With Arizona trailing 2-1, Drew singled to center, sending Chris Young to third. Then Eric Byrnes hit a slow chopper to second baseman Kaz Matsui, whose flip to second pulled Troy Tulowitzki off the bag.

Young scored and Drew was called safe at second. But Drew began jogging toward the dugout. Tulowitzki, who had started to argue with umpire Tom Hallion, saw Drew run and tossed to third baseman Jamey Carroll, who tagged Drew for the second out.

"When I took him out, it looked like he touched the bag from my standpoint," Drew said. "I looked back and no call, so I'm figuring I'm out. I start heading back in."

Then Drew saw third base coach Chip Hale.

"He's saying, 'Go back,' " Drew said.

Too late.

That blunder took the potential winning run out of scoring position. It loomed large when Valverde, working his second inning, walked Willy Taveras on four pitches to force in the winning run in the 11th. It was only the second time that Valverde, the major league saves leader with 47, had worked more than one inning this year.

Manager Bob Melvin said he didn't regret leaving the right-hander in the game.

"You've got to keep him in there," Melvin said. "He's the closer, in there for two innings. And once he gives up a run, you go get him. You've got to at least go with your best until they get a run."

Third baseman Mark Reynolds opened the door for the game's first run when he let Todd Helton's hard smash go through his legs in the second. Helton scored on Yorvit Torrealba's two-out single.

After veteran Tony Clark led off the bottom half of the second with a double, Reynolds and another rookie, Jeff Salazar, struck out. Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez walked Chris Snyder and struck out Augie Ojeda to end the threat.

In the fifth, the Diamondbacks loaded the bases and again failed to score. With two on and one out, Byrnes reached for a pitch out of the strike zone and fouled out.

After a walk loaded the bases, Reynolds killed the threat by striking out on three pitches.

The Diamondbacks' problems began in the opener, when rookie Justin Upton was called for interference while trying to break up a double play at second base.

That game ended when another rookie, Miguel Montero, was thrown out trying to leg out a double with his team trailing 5-1.



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