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D-backs struggling to produce two-out hits

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DENVER -- As the D-backs slipped from second to third place in the National League West standings after a series opening 3-1 loss to the division-leading Rockies on Friday night, a stark statistical divide distinguished the two teams.

While the Rockies are capitalizing on scoring opportunities with a .331 average with runners in scoring position, the D-backs are scuffling a bit, hitting just .243. The D-backs are hitting a solid .338 with runners in scoring position with less than two outs, but are not performing in the clutch, falling to .119 with two outs while the Rockies stay strong at .292 with two outs.

"You just try to work on your approach," manager Kirk Gibson said. "Even if you have a good approach, there's no guarantee you're going to get the guy in. It's a tough game. We'd like to do better at it. Continue to talk about a good approach and give yourself a chance to succeed."

Part of the issue could be attributed to a slew of injuries that has forced the D-backs to depend on some younger players off the bench. Comfort in the clutch is often an acquired habit.

"You can't overload a player every time something goes wrong, or [with] every thought that you have in your mind," Gibson said. "It takes time, it's a process to do so. We try to measure when to do that, when not to do that. They know anyway. Even though you have every intention when you get to the plate, it doesn't always work out that way. The pitchers trying to trick you. ... It's the game of baseball, it's tough. It's not as easy as one might think."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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