Home is once again not so sweet for the Diamondbacks. The D-Backs, hoping for a second straight superior homestand — something that’s been rare for them the past couple of years — got off to rocky start Friday night by dropping a wild, 8-7 decision to the Houston Astros.
The loss drops the D-Backs (55-54) one game behind the Cincinnati Reds in the National League wild-card race.
They remain one game behind the San Diego Padres, the NL West leader.
The D-Backs, coming off a solid 5-5 road trip (they’re 29-27 on the road this season) dropped to 26-27 at home. They were 7-3 on their last homestand.
The D-Backs were in good shape until the Astros broke a 6-6 tie in the ninth on back-to-back homers by pinch hitter Mike Lamb and center fielder Willy Taveras off Tony Pena (3-1).
The homer by Taveras was his first in 738 at bats.
But the game probably was decided in the middle, when starter Miguel Batista couldn’t even give the D-Backs five innings.
“Maybe this is the worst I’ve ever done,” said Batista, who walked seven batters in 4 2/3 innings.
Saying that outside of Craig Biggio’s first-inning homer, “Nobody hit the ball hard. . . . My command got me in trouble.
“It was one of those goofy nights,” Batista said. “I’m the guy you hold responsible for it.”
The D-Backs almost won anyway, when the Astros walked three straight D-Backs and gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth.
Then Dan Wheeler, who replaced closer Brad Lidge, struck out pinch hitter Carlos Quentin to end the game.
“We got great at-bats all the way to the end,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Wheeler just made a couple of good pitches to Quentin.”
It’s a wonder the Astros didn’t win much more easily.
That’s because the D-Backs walked a staggering 11 hitters (though only two scored), tying a franchise worst, and gave up 14 hits.
Meanwhile, the Astros’ Roy Oswalt gave new life to the term “scattering” base hits.
Oswalt somehow survived 12 hits over six innings. He left with a 5-4 lead, an edge that disappeared on Johnny Estrada’s two-run splashdown homer into the pool in the seventh.
The Astros’ Lance Berkman then tied it at 6-6, by belting a solo homer over the pool in the eighth.
The D-Backs lost a run in the third when Stephen Drew’s double to right-center barely hopped up into the pool area.
If it hadn’t, Orlando Hudson easily would have scored from first. Instead, Batista struck out to end the inning, and the D-Backs got nothing.
But the D-Backs got a big break in their favor when the Astros inexplicably sent Brad Ausmus home from first on a pinch double by Orlando Palmeiro with one out in the seventh. Ausmus was easily thrown out.
Eric Byrnes played in his 600th career major-league game. . . . Estrada’s homer was the 33rd ever to land in the pool on the fly, the 15th by a D-Back. . . . Johnny Estrada leads National League catchers in RBIs with 57. . . . Chad Tracy collected four hits for the sixth time in his career. . . . Luis Gonzalez has hit safely in 19 of the past 21 games (35-for-85, .413). . . . To make room for today’s starter, Dustin Nippert, the D-Backs will move somebody off the big-league roster, probably a pitcher.