On Wednesday, converted reliever Micah Owings entered the game in the eighth inning to try to keep the Cubs at bay with a 4-3 lead. He allowed five runs in a third of an inning, walking three batters and allowing two hits. After walking in a run, Owings was replaced by Leo Rosales, who allowed the big blow, a grand slam to the Cubs' Reed Johnson.
"I have to figure out how to adapt to [the bullpen]," Owings said. "When you're starting you have some more time to prepare, but you've still got to get out there and get the job done."
In the first two games of the series, the Cubs were able to muster only two runs on nine hits, but the team that leads the National League in virtually every offensive category finally showed its capabilities on Wednesday night.
The Cubs (59-42) scored three runs in the fifth inning to overcome a one-run deficit. From there, the North Siders never looked back, tacking on another five runs in the eighth inning.
"We had some good energy early on," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "In the fifth inning it started to unravel a bit for us."
Starter Doug Davis was solid. After giving up a solo homer to Derrek Lee in the first, he got back on track for the next three innings, before allowing three runs in the fifth. The D-backs (50-51) had a 3-1 lead that they never recovered.
It was a game full of baserunning blunders on both sides. In the bottom of the fifth, the D-backs started a promising inning with a leadoff walk by Augie Ojeda, followed by a triple by Conor Jackson. After Mark Reynolds struck out for his third time in the game, Chris Young hit a ball right to third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and Jackson, who started running toward home, was caught in a pickle and was easily thrown out. Young reached second on the play but was picked off second base during the next at-bat to end the inning.
An inning that could have given the D-backs a lead instead ended by sending only four batters to the plate with one run scoring.
The D-backs did have three stolen bases in the game, mainly accomplished by catching opposing starter Ted Lilly sleeping -- the same way Lilly was able to steal third off Davis in the fourth after he hit an RBI single on a high chopper that bounced over the head of Reynolds.
"That was a huge turning point. You've got to give him props for catching me sleeping out there," Davis said. "When he stole third that was pretty much the winning run when they took the lead."
The pitchers paid so little attention to the runners in the first few innings of the game that had the stolen bases happened in the later innings, official scorers could have ruled them defensive indifferences.
The D-backs did have a good day at the dish, putting together 10 hits. Young led the offense with three doubles, going 3-for-4. Jackson continued his hot streak with a 3-for-3 game, raising his batting average to .314.
Tony Clark hit a two-run homer in the fourth, and Chris Snyder hit a 404-foot home run in the eighth to make it a four-run game. Snyder's home run ball was caught by one of the many Cubs fans, who threw the ball back on the field, despite the Cubs playing in a visiting venue.
"Anytime you've won the first two, obviously you want to go out and win that third one," Melvin said. "We're doing some better things. We're still bogging down a little bit. Our defense wasn't great again, we didn't run the bases great at times. Other times we were real aggressive and ran well, but we are swinging the bats better. We still have some things that we need to work on."
A win would have given the Diamondbacks their first three-game win streak since they won four in a row from May 13-16. The D-backs still are taking pride that they finished a critical homestand with a 3-3 record while playing the National League's best team.
Arizona did remain in first by a game because the Dodgers lost in Colorado.
"This entire homestand we've played well, whether we won or we lost," Young said. "We battled every game and gave ourselves a chance to win in every game so that's pretty much all you can ask for in these series. It came out good."