D-backs stumble in extras

D-backs stumble in extras

PHOENIX -- The Boston Red Sox brought enough fans to fill Chase Field, turning a typically sparse crowd with rows of empty seats in the upper decks into a sellout crowd of 49,826 that set an attendance record at Chase Field.

The rival factions of the crowd made for an interesting mix of cheers throughout the game, when "Let's go D-backs" melted into "Let's go Red Sox."

"It was unreal," D-backs starter Micah Owings said. "It kind of reminded me of playing in a College World Series. You've got half the crowd for you and half the crowd sort of rooting for whoever, but a great crowd. It would have been nice to have a little bit more on our side, but that's part of it."

With the help of a bipartisan crowd, the Red Sox also won the game the D-backs way, in one-run fashion with clutch hitting in the later innings.

Mike Lowell finished Arizona off with a pinch-hit, go-ahead sacrifice fly to cement a 4-3, 10-inning victory after Jason Varitek's RBI double in the eighth knotted the score at 3. The D-backs typically win games like that, entering the contest with a 17-6 mark in one-run games.

Despite the big crowd and playing against the Major League-leading Red Sox, you never could tell that Owings was a rookie making just his ninth start of the season.

Owings held Boston scoreless until serving up a two-run home run to Varitek with two outs in the sixth, on his 100th pitch of the night. In all, he allowed just the two runs on seven hits over six innings.

"[Owings] pitched great," manager Bob Melvin said. "I mean, one pitch to Varitek, two-run homer and that's basically it. [He] pitched great to a very good lineup all night long. We should have won that game. He's a tough kid. For a rookie you don't even worry about him going out in a game like that, with a crowd like that against them. That's the last thing you think about."

Said Scott Hairston: "He definitely gave us a chance, and that's how he's been the whole year. He's been doing his part."

Owing pitched with 11 days between his last start May 29 at Philadelphia after having his start skipped last time through the rotation. The last time the D-backs skipped him he responded with his worst outing of the year, giving up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings May 19 at Pittsburgh, but that was certainly not the case this time out against the fourth-highest scoring team in baseball.

"I learned a long time ago, my dad taught me that facing teams and guys like that, they put their pants on one leg at time, too," Owings said. "I thought about that earlier today as I came into the game, and I tried to do my best and take one pitch at a time."

Owings left with a 3-2 lead, but much like Thursday's loss to San Francisco, the bullpen could not hold it. In both contests, a long reliever ended up struggling in extra innings, with this time Juan Cruz (2-1) being the culprit after Brandon Lyon could not get the hold in the eighth.

Hideki Okajima (2-0) pitched two hitless innings, and Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 14th save with a scoreless 10th.

David Ortiz scored the winning run on Lowell's sacrifice fly, although Melvin thought he left third base early in easily beating an off-line throw from Carlos Quentin.

Arizona's hitters did not do their part either, only recording a pair of hits after Stephen Drew's two-run home run put Arizona up 3-0 in the fourth.

"Our at-bats from what the fourth inning on weren't very good," Melvin said. "We made [Julian Tavarez] work early on, and we probably had one or two good at-bats the rest of the way.

"We can't just say, 'Here's the lead, bullpen. Hold it.' It's a one-run lead. They have too good of a lineup to just sit there and sit back and say, 'You guys do the work.' We've got to add on."

The D-backs had been rolling through the National League the last two weeks, winning 11 of 12 before the loss to the Giants on Thursday. Arizona has now lost three in a row, but still remains only a game behind San Diego for first place in the National League West, despite the early scuffles in Interleague Play.

"I don't care who we're playing, we go out there expecting to play well and expecting to win," Hairston said. "I don't think we have an attitude as if we're inferior, but we just go out there and put our hearts on the field and play hard. That's all we can do."

Already guaranteed of losing their first series since May 21-23 against Colorado, a span of four series, the D-backs have a chance Sunday to avoid their first series sweep since April 20-22 at San Francisco.

"It's a great club we're playing, arguably the best in baseball, but I'll go up against them with our team any day," Owings said, "and I thought we made a good run at it tonight, and we played really well."

Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.