Miscues, quiet bats cost D-Backs

Miscues, quiet bats cost D-Backs

SAN FRANCISCO -- He may not be the player he was a couple of years ago, but as the Diamondbacks found out the hard way on Monday night, Barry Bonds can still put a charge into the ball.

The embattled slugger gave the 38,203 at AT&T Park some excitement and provided all the offense starter Noah Lowry needed with a fourth-inning blast into McCovey Cove as the Giants rolled to a 5-0 win over the D-Backs.

Arizona has now lost four of five to fall under the .500 mark for the first time since July 18. The D-Backs collected only two hits on the night and committed three errors.

"You make more errors than you get hits, you're going to have a difficult time winning games," said D-Backs manager Bob Melvin.

The game started out as a pitchers' duel, with Lowry keeping the D-Backs hitters off balance and hitless until Orlando Hudson lined a single to center with two outs in the fourth.

And speaking of the fourth, that was when Arizona starter Livan Hernandez made his first real mistake of the game and threw a first-pitch fastball to Bonds that caught too much of the plate. For the 725th time in his career, Bonds hit it out of the ballpark.

Given the way the ball was carrying, or rather not carrying on this night, that Bonds was able to reach the Cove was impressive.

"He's obviously got a little sock in his bat," Melvin said.

The way Lowry was throwing, the Bonds homer would have been enough. The lefty raised his career record to 5-1 against the D-Backs and climbed to 6-7 on the season by using his fastball, curveball and changeup to keep the Arizona hitters on their heels.

"He can mix it up, man," Hudson said. "He mixes it up real good. Good fastball, curveball, he mixed it inside and outside, up and down."

Lowry went the distance for his second career shutout and his first since his big-league debut on Aug. 3, 2004. He was credited with a two-hitter, both by Hudson, but Hudson's second hit, a grounder to right could easily have been called an error on Ray Durham.

The D-Backs' best chance against Lowry came in the seventh when with one out, Hudson singled and Luis Gonzalez followed with a walk. After a pop out by Conor Jackson, Lowry hit Carlos Quentin to load the bases for Chad Tracy.

Tracy hit the ball hard, but right at Steve Finely in center to end the inning.

"Tracy hits the ball right on the screws to center field," Melvin said. "If that ball finds some grass somewhere, it's a whole different ballgame."

Instead, the D-Backs went back out on the field and after committing two errors, they came back to the dugout trailing, 3-0.

The first error came with one out when Lowry laid down a bunt that Hernandez started to field, but when he looked toward second, the ball hit off his glove and rolled a few feet away from him. He recovered in time to make a throw at first, but it sailed wild and the Giants had runners on the corners with one out.

Randy Winn then looked like he hit into a double play when his sharp grounder to short was fielded by Damion Easley, who threw to Hudson covering second. Hudson, though, had trouble getting the right grip on the ball as he pulled it out of his glove. His throw bounced past Jackson at first allowing Greene to score and putting Winn on second, where he scored on Omar Vizquel's single to center.

"I tried to rush it," Hudson said. "I cost us the game. I lost that one big time. I lost that game."

Given the way Lowry pitched and the way the D-Backs swung the bats, the runs that scored after Bonds' homer were just icing on a cake that had been baked. Hernandez knew as much, which is why he spent time after the game consoling Hudson.

Because the Dodgers fell to the Padres, the D-Backs are still four games in back of LA, though they fell from second place to third behind the Padres.

Of greater concern to the D-Backs, right now, is their lack of offense. In their last two games, they have scored a total of one run.

"We've been struggling offensively, no doubt," Melvin said. "We're swinging a little bit more early in the count than we normally do and to an extent, that's a little bit of insecurity. You're not swinging great, and you don't want to get deep in the count.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.