The games have been as extraordinarily intense as they’ve been evenly matched. And so little mistakes are magnified into big-time blunders. A failure to handle a sacrifice bunt helps cost the Los Angeles Dodgers in Friday’s marathon.
A failure to tag up on a long fly helps cost the Diamondbacks the next night.
And so it goes in a series that concludes today in a game that might be the season’s biggest so far for the D-Backs, who fell 4-3 Saturday night at Chase Field.
The loss disappointed most in a season-high crowd of 40,358 and spoiled a terrific start by Miguel Batista, who got his eighth no-decision in his last 12 starts.
More important, it puts the D-Backs (63-66) — who now need to win nearly every series — four games behind the division-leading Dodgers (67-62) and 3 1/2 games out of the wild-card lead.
“That’s what’s great about this game,” said Jeff Kent, the Dodgers’ old pro.
“You just never know.”
Kent, 38, should know. He blasted the game-winning hit, a homer off Luis Vizcaino to lead off the ninth inning even though, “I was actually just trying to get on base.”
So he got on all four of them with career blast No. 343.
The D-Backs might still have won except for what manager Bob Melvin called “a couple of faux paus” involving 15 minutes of infamy for Orlando Hudson.
In the top of the fourth, Hudson didn’t cover second in time to get an inning-ending force-out on Russell Martin on a hard grounder by pitcher Derek Lowe to shortshop Craig Counsell.
Hudson said he was playing in the hole on the right side. “And Martin runs good for a catcher. He beat me to the bag.”
So Arizona State product Andre Ethier, who had doubled, scored from third.
In the bottom of the inning, Hudson — who had doubled — failed to tag up at second base on a long fly to center by Luis Gonzalez.
Melvin said he tried, too hard, to make up for the mistake, sending Hudson to steal third.
But Martin threw him out easily, which looked even worse after Chad Tracy got a hit that would have gotten the D-Backs a precious run.
“That one probably was on me for trying to force things,” Melvin said.
Hudson wouldn’t hear of this.
“It came down to one play: I didn’t tag. Then Tracy gets a base hit.
“I thought it was going off the wall,” he said of Gonzalez’s fly, which was caught on the track by Kenny Lofton.
“I should have been thinking about tagging.
“I should have been at third base. A bad base-running mistake.”
Hudson tried to atone in the eighth. His line-drive single to center scored pinch hitter Stephen Drew to briefly tie the score at 3-3.
The Dodgers battled through a bad break. With two out in the bottom of the fourth, Tracy hit a line drive off the left (nonpitching) hand of Lowe, who had been throwing a shutout.
He left the game with a bruise, though no broken bones were found.
The Dodger relievers, for the second straight night, couldn’t hold off the D-Backs. But Kent’s big blast bailed them out. And Takashi Saito got the D-Backs in order for this 15th save.
Jonathan Broxton got the win after throwing only one pitch, a line drive out from Johnny Estrada to end the eighth inning.
SHORT HOPS: The D-Backs’ previous biggest crowd was on opening day, April 11 vs. Colorado. . . . Kent praised Batista, saying, “He threw a hell of a ballgame. He kept us down, kept us frustrated.”. . . . Batista said he thinks highly of the Dodgers’ lineup, saying everyone can hit one out, even leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal “who’s close to being a midget.”