Devastating Losses Push D'Backs into Second-Place

The Arizona Diamondbacks entered a four-game series against the New York Mets on Monday with a 58-67 record, nine games below .500 but only four behind the National League West leading San Diego Padres, and one game ahead of the third-place Los Angeles Dodgers. Four games later, the D'Backs are left shaking their heads, wondering what went wrong.

The Mets not only swept the series, but crushed Arizona, scoring 39 runs to Arizona's 7.  Monday's and Thursday's games were relatively close, with the Snakes losing 4-1 and 3-1, respectively.  But Tuesday and Wednesday were absolutely disastrous- the Snakes lost 14-1, then 18-4. 

The Padres took two of three from the Houston Astros and did not play Thursday, allowing them to gain 2.5 more games over Arizona in the standings.  The Dodgers also picked up a game on Arizona, bringing the two teams into a second-place tie.

On Monday, Brandon Webb pitched for the D'Backs against Tom Glavine.  Both starters lasted eight innings, giving up only five hits.  But Glavine only gave up one run, on a two-out double by Shawn Green that scored Luis Gonzalez in the bottom of the seventh inning.  The Mets scored an insurance run in the top of the ninth, when Victor Diaz homered off of Tim Worrell, and the D'Backs lost 4-1.

Claudio Vargas headed to the mound for Arizona against Victor Zambrano on Tuesday.  Zambrano gave up only one run on six hits in eight innings, but Vargas was not so fortunate.  The Mets jumped on him for eight runs on ten hits in five innings, half of which came in the top of the second.  Lance Cormier proved to be no relief for Arizona when he replaced Vargas, pitching only one inning and allowing six runs on five hits.  The Mets didn't score for the rest of the game, but the damage had already been done, and Arizona lost 14-1.

After the devastation on Tuesday, the D'Backs turned to Russ Ortiz, who made only his third start since experience a stress fracture in his rib cage.  He managed only four innings, giving up seven runs on eight hits.  The D'Backs bullpen again proved disappointing, allowing 11 more runs, including four from Greg Aquino and five from Buddy Groom.  New York starter Jae Seo garnered his sixth win, pitching seven innings and allowing only two runs on seven hits.  Despite scoring two runs off of Mets reliever Aaron Heilman, they still faced their second-straight destructive loss at the hands of the Mets, 18-4.

Coming off the two major losses, Arizona faced another date with disaster on Thursday when Pedro Martinez started for the Mets.  He took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, when Luis Gonzalez broke the string with a one-out single.  Arizona scored a run off of reliever Roberto Hernandez when Chad Tracy homered in the bottom of the seventh, but the offense continued to flounder.  Although Arizona's bullpen fared much better than in the last two games, the D'Backs still lost, 3-1.

Many D'Backs expressed sentiments about wasted opportunities in the four-game series, including Thursday's starter, Javier Vazquez, who was handed his 13th loss despite pitching seven innings and giving up only two runs off four hits. ``It's just disappointing to be losing all these games, man.  It's really frustrating.  We're not getting the job done and we're not winning games," Vazquez told the Associated Press (AP).

Craig Counsell, who went 0-12 in the series, also expressed frustration. ``We had chances.  [Martinez] struggled with his command and that got the pitch count up pretty fast but you've got to get that hit that brings in some runs. We just couldn't get it," he explained to AP.

Despite the miserable series, Arizona did see one major highlight- a career milestone for Shawn Green.  Green hit his 300th career home run in Wednesday's lost, a two-run homer off of Aaron Heilman in the bottom of the eighth.  However, Green revealed that it came at a bad time. ``There wasn't a lot of good feelings about [the home run], the way the last two games have gone.  I knew the 300th would come at some point and relatively soon, but tonight wasn't a real good night for it,'' he said to AP.

Arizona remains at home for three games against the wild-card leading Philadelphia Phillies.  They will then face the NL West for six games, heading to San Diego for three, then returning home for three against the San Francisco Giants.

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