Clutch hits elude D-backs in defeat

D-backs shut out in finale in LA

LOS ANGELES -- When it was hit, Jon Garland thought it would hang up just long enough for Gerardo Parra to pull it in.

Instead, James Loney's drive to left made it past a diving Parra and rolled to the wall for a triple that led to the game's only run as the D-backs fell to the Dodgers, 1-0, Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.

The game concluded what was a frustrating series for the D-backs, who wound up losing two of three to fall 13 1/2 games behind the first-place Dodgers in the National League West.

"These three games were well within our reach and obviously competitive ballgames," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said.

The D-backs won the first game of the series and led the second game by four runs in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first. The Dodgers rallied for the win in that game and then beat the D-backs in the finale despite managing only one run.

Arizona starting pitchers did their job in the series. Billy Buckner, Dan Haren and Jon Garland allowed a combined two runs in 19 innings.

"A starting pitcher's job is to go out there and give us a chance to win and they did that," Hinch said. "It's good that we got the good starting pitching and they deserved better when it comes to the overall outcome."

The offense, on the other hand, seemed to disappear following Justin Upton's grand slam in the second inning of Tuesday's game. Since that blow, the D-backs have gone 16 innings without pushing a runner across the plate.

The D-backs did not lack for chances Wednesday night. What they did go without were hits when they needed them.

With runners at first and second and one out in the second inning, Chris Young grounded into a double play.

In the fourth, with runners at first and second and one out, Miguel Montero struck out, and after Young drew a walk to load the bases, Josh Whitesell grounded out to end the inning.

Once again in the sixth, the D-backs had runners at first and third with two outs, and Young popped out to end the rally.

And finally in the eighth, with runners at first and second and one out, Montero hit the ball hard but right at shortstop Rafael Furcal, who was shading him up the middle. Furcal stepped on second and threw to first for the inning-ending double play.

"Plenty of chances," Hinch said. "We put ourselves in a good position to score and then just couldn't execute at the end. The clutch hit wasn't there for us. It was a good game, but it just didn't fall our way."

The Dodgers had fewer opportunities, but they cashed in one during the sixth when Loney led off with the triple that just eluded Parra's glove.

"It was sinking away from me," Parra said. "I thought I had it."

"It was kind of a do-or-die play," Hinch said. "It's a tough way to lose a game."

Casey Blake followed with a fly ball to medium left that Parra nabbed, and his throw to the plate was a little high as Loney slid in safely.

That run was enough to saddle a loss on Garland, who allowed four hits and three walks in six innings. It was a marked improvement over his last outing when he gave up nine runs (eight earned) in just 2 2/3 innings.

Garland made a mechanical adjustment in between starts, but he also made a mental one that might have been just as important.

"Last game I think I gave up on myself," Garland said. "It wasn't there and I didn't dig deep enough and go find it. I pretty much made up my mind from right after that game that it wouldn't happen to me again the rest of my career."

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