Drew Comes Through in 8th

The Diamondbacks' lack of clutch hitting continued on Saturday, but a solo home run by Stephen Drew in the 8th inning was enough to get Arizona only its second win in their last eleven road contests. The D-Backs triumphed over the Chicago Cubs 3-2.

The Arizona Diamondbacks managed just three runs despite drawing four walks, collecting ten base knocks, and having their leadoff hitter reach on a two-base error to begin the game.  Tied 2-2 in the 8th inning, it seemed like the Diamondbacks' inability to hit in the clutch would cost them another win.

There was good reason for pessimism.  The Diamondbacks had managed just two wins in their last eleven one-run contests, while the Chicago Cubs had been the hottest team in baseball over the past month-and-a-half.  They had been 7-1 on the homestand, and their 29-13 mark since June 3rd was the best in the majors. 

Additionally, they had gone 16-for-37 with runners in scoring position over their last three games, and a .281 mark for the season that was good for 6th best in the majors.  Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks' .234 batting average with runners in scoring position had been the worst in baseball.

The top of the third did not inspire any more confidence, as the Diamondbacks had the bases loaded with one out, yet failed to score in the inning.

As it turned out, the Diamondbacks did not need to hit well in the clutch to take Game 2 from the Cubs.  Their first two runs came on RBI groundouts, both scoring leadoff batter Chris YoungStephen Drew, coming off a terrific at bat leading off the 6th in which he fouled off seven strikes before drawing an 11-pitch walk, then stood in against Bob Howry in the 8th.

This was Howry's first game back in his usual setup role with closer Ryan Dempster having been activated off the disabled list on Friday.  Drew once again took a good approach to the plate, working Howry to a 3-1 count before depositing a fastball into the right field bleachers.

The homer served to atone for a poor showing the day before, when Drew made two errors and a base running gaffe.  Three of Drew's six homers this season have given the Diamondbacks a lead.

The Diamondbacks improved to 14-12 against left-handed starters despite having the lowest batting average in the majors against southpaws.

News and Notes

-- Micah Owings struggled once again with his control, needing 95 pitches just to get through four innings.  Owings has gone winless since June 20, and has not tossed more than six innings since May 24th.

-- The bullpen worked five hitless innings, led by Juan Cruz.  Cruz faced the minimum nine batters while working all of the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings against his former team. 

-- Jose Valverde nailed down his franchise leading 80th save of his career.  He has 29 for the season, which ties him with J.J. Putz for second in Major League Baseball.

--Orlando Hudson snapped a 2-for-17 slump by recording three hits in his five at bats and driving in the first of the D-Backs three runs in the first.  He had been hitting .200 in 55 July at bats, with just two extra base hits, both doubles.


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