Just when the young Diamondbacks looked to have figured out how to score in the majors, Colorado’s pitching staff reminded them just how hard it can be. Heading into Tuesday’s game with the Rockies, the Diamondbacks had scored at least five runs in four consecutive games after failing to do so since the last day of April.
But they were stymied by four Colorado pitchers in a 3-1 loss before 23,058 fans at Chase Field.
The loss snapped a modest three-game winning streak and dropped the home team’s record in games decided by two runs or fewer to 18-11.
It was the Diamondbacks’ 19th game in the last 30 to be decided by two runs or fewer.
The game was tied heading into the ninth inning when Arizona reliever Brandon Lyon issued a leadoff walk and yielded a tiebreaking double to Troy Tulowitzki that landed less than a foot inside the right-field foul line.
Tulowitzki scored later on a sacrifice fly and Carlos Quentin, pinch-hitter Chris Snyder and Robby Hammock were retired in order in the home half of the ninth.
It was an unexpected result for Lyon, who entered the game with a team-best 1.35 ERA.
“Baseball’s like that,” Arizona starter Livan Hernandez said.
“Lyon is one of the best in the league. Baseball has a lot of surprises.”
With relievers Tony Pena and Jose Valverde unavailable due to their recent workloads, Hernandez threw 125 pitches to hand over a 1-1 tie after eight innings.
He limited the Rockies to one run on nine hits while walking one and striking out eight. He allowed a man to reach in every inning but stranded seven to escape nearly every situation unscathed.
In the third inning, Hernandez negated a sacrifice attempt by pouncing on a decently placed bunt and throwing the runner out at second.
In the sixth inning, Hernandez helped himself when he picked off Todd Helton at second base and finished off the frame by registering back-to-back strikeouts of Brad Hawpe and Garrett Atkins.
He struck out Hawpe on his final pitch to strand the go-ahead run on second base.
“On a day where we don’t have much in the bullpen … he gave us everything we needed,” Melvin said.
“We just couldn’t get any runs for him.”
Colorado starter Josh Fogg, who entered the game with a 1-5 record and 4.91 ERA, demonstrated Hernandez-like invincibility as he yielded five hits and issued three walks in the first three innings yet was stung for just one run.
The Diamondbacks left six on base in the first three frames and seven in the first four and then went limp.
Colorado pitchers faced the minimum in each of the final five innings.
Even after Fogg left the game with a left groin strain, the Diamondbacks failed to get the offense going.
Orlando Hudson, representing the go-ahead run, led off the eighth with a walk, but Eric Byrnes struck out looking and Mark Reynolds and Hudson were retired on a strike-’em-out-throw-’em-out double play.
The Diamondbacks were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
“We hit some balls on the nose, but you don’t want to use any excuses,” Melvin said. “At some point in time you have to get a hit to drive somebody in. …
“You have to stay with it. The last couple days we stayed with it all the way through. Our bats went down as (Tuesday’s) game went along.”