SAN FRANCISCO -- There's no doubt the D-backs have dug quite a hole for themselves with their poor start. The only question now is: When will they stop digging? On Sunday, they took a two-run lead into the ninth inning only to watch the Giants rally to tie it and then prevail, 6-5, one inning later.
The loss was the seventh in a row for the D-backs, who find themselves in last place with a 20-31 record, 10 1/2 games behind the division-leading Padres and 6 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Rockies. "It shouldn't be frustrating," outfielder Justin Upton said. "It should [tick] you off. We should be [ticked] off that we're getting it handed to us every night. It's beyond feeling sorry for yourself. We've got to go out and fight like we did today and hopefully it turns around." It looked like it might just do that Sunday when the D-backs capitalized on some wildness by the Giants bullpen to score a pair of runs in the eighth inning to go up 4-2. "We had an edge about us today," Upton said. "We've really been getting stomped out, but today we fought and just got beat. We've got to find a way to have that edge every single night." After the Giants cut the lead to 4-3 with a run in the bottom of the eighth, the D-backs responded with a run of their own in the ninth to go up 5-3. Arizona manager A.J. Hinch went to closer Chad Qualls, who before giving up a pair of runs in a non-save situation Friday night had put together four straight scoreless outings. The Giants, though, posted four hits against him in the ninth, including a hit-and-run RBI single from Freddy Sanchez, plus an RBI groundout by Pablo Sandoval to tie the game. It was the fourth blown save of the year for Qualls, who has a 7.64 ERA. He could be seen kicking the water cooler in the dugout in frustration following the outing. "I guess everyone is having a good approach against me right now," Qualls said. "I feel like I'm making good pitches, I really just can't explain it. It's one of those things and it's hard to just keep coming to the field and keep grinding and doing your work and pitching, but that's what you have to do. It's frustrating when you feel like things are starting to turn around and you're throwing the ball well and they keep getting hits off you." What made things even harder for the D-backs to swallow was how much they had to fight simply to put themselves in a position to win. Ian Kennedy pitched well again as he allowed just two runs over six innings, and Aaron Heilman was able to hold onto the lead despite giving up a solo homer to Aubrey Huff in the eighth. "Today was definitely a good game for us," Qualls said. "We battled to come back and take the lead. They gave me a two-run lead in the ninth inning to shut the door and obviously I can't do it. They're just getting barrel on it right now and getting hits off me. I'm obviously going to try to fix it as soon as I can. I feel like I'm doing everything I can right now and I just need things to change, turn around, because I feel like I'm doing my part." The quietness of the clubhouse following the game spoke volumes as players searched for answers. "I've got nothing positive to give you guys right now, I really don't," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "There's just nothing I can say. It's just one of those stretches. I think you guys can imagine [the frustration]. There's nothing easy about it. It's not lack of effort or anything other than just not getting it done throughout our whole roster." The high expectations for the team coming into the year have made the struggles all the more difficult to deal with. "We're not looking at it like it's the end of the road," LaRoche said. "Although it feels that way. There's a lot of ball left and there's teams that have turned it around doing worse than we are. I think everybody knows what we're capable of. We're just not doing it."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.