PHOENIX -- Turns out, the jammed bill for Luis Gonzalez Appreciation Night had room for one more unannounced entry. Mark Reynolds joined the salute and crashed the party. He also crushed a third-inning pitch halfway to Tucson, helping detonate the D-backs' 9-0 victory Saturday night over the Astros with his 40th homer. Only one other guy in Arizona history had reached that level -- the one given the keys to Chase Field in pregame ceremonies.More
"It's pretty cool," Reynolds said of matching Gonzalez, who had zoomed past the 40 level to a club-record 57 homers in 2001. "I'd like to follow in his footsteps, bring a World Series here, and do all the great things he did." Great things begin with small deeds, as a Chinese proverb must surely say. And Reynolds and his young D-backs posse could be onto something here. For the first time this season, they've scored seven-plus runs in three straight games, going way beyond that with a total of 34 in ripping off three consecutive wins. Saturday's output certainly was excessive behind the pitching of Jon Garland, who brushed Houston aside on five widely spaced hits for seven innings. Justin Upton also drove in two runs on three hits, one of them his 21st homer, and Miguel Montero added a bases-clearing double as the D-backs clinched a series win over the Astros; since the end of June, the D-backs have dropped only one of seven home series. But the offensive headliner was arguably the least likely 40-homer man in business. Reynolds is a sapling among the baseball redwoods. He's listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, but is swallowed up by the loose pants he wears in pregame practice and seems to have to glance up to look at most reporters -- hardly towers of American manhood -- in the eye. As Garland said, "He doesn't look like he can hit. Then he goes out and does remarkable things." "Every time he hits one," said Arizona manager A.J. Hinch, "he seems to top the previous one. He has an uncanny ability to top himself. "Forty, at this point of the season, is pretty remarkable. He can do a lot more damage." To Houston starter Bud Norris (3-3), Reynolds did ample damage with Upton on base to cap the put-away rally in the third. The D-backs maintained their recent habit for big innings by erupting for four runs that inning, when Ryan Roberts tripled for a run and scored on a single by Upton prior to Reynolds' screamer way over the wall in straightaway left. "I haven't thought about it a lot," Reynolds said of 40. "I just go out there every day, and hit a homer every now and then. So now we're at this number." Speaking of big numbers ... the D-backs have stirred for six big innings of three-plus runs in the last week. The current outbreak comes on the heels of a 2-8 road trip that included a seven-game losing streak, lifting the players' averages and their spirits. "It gets us over the misery of the trip," Hinch agreed. "We've shown that we're a real good team when we play 27 outs together. Hopefully, it will lead us to a better last month." They certainly are a real good team when Reynolds and Upton play together. The three-game spree coincides with Reynolds' return from a bout with the flu. In those three games, he and Upton have combined to go 11-for-26, with three homers and 10 RBIs. "A pretty good one-two punch in the middle of the order," Reynolds said with a slight smile. "This has been a nice stretch, after all we've struggled this season." Garland (8-11) has had his own struggles, but not on Saturday, when only his pitches, not his chin and mood, were down. He struck out five, walked one and did not let Houston get two runners on base until with two outs in the seventh. "I don't think I did anything differently, but I kept the ball down," the right-hander said. "For seven innings, for the most part, every pitch was down. So I got a lot of ground balls. "I'm not gonna overpower anybody so, really, when I keep the ball down, that's when I have success." Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the second on a run-scoring wild pitch by Norris. Upton led off the fifth with his 21st homer to make it 6-0. In between, Reynolds took his bow. Then Montero cleared the bases. The party was on, long before Montgomery Gentry took the short-center stage to belt country and rock hits, and before fireworks illuminated the evening sky. "A pretty complete game for us," Hinch said, with satisfaction. "Garland was terrific; his changeup was the difference in the game. We got some big hits, and fielded cleanly." Baseball is a game meant to break your heart, as has been often pointed out. On some perfect occasions, though, it only heartens you. For the D-backs, this had been perfect.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less