Hale unhappy with D-backs' energy level

Manager surprised club wasn't more competitive in finale

Hale unhappy with D-backs' energy level

HOUSTON -- It wasn't just that the D-backs dropped their second straight game to the Astros on Sunday -- this one by a 4-1 margin -- or that they struggled to covert scoring opportunities that bothered Chip Hale.

It was the way they went about it that had their manager a little hot under the collar.

"We just didn't do a good job," Hale said. "Sunday, day game, energy level wasn't great compared to the way we've been playing on this road trip, so we'll have to get to the bottom of it and crank it back up for Washington."

Hale was then asked if it surprised him that his team did not play with much energy.

"Yeah, it does," he said. "Playing here, a good atmosphere to play ball in, I'm surprised we weren't a little more competitive today."

For the second straight game, the D-backs had a chance to put the Astros in a deep hole early, but were unable to capitalize.

After back-to-back doubles by Welington Castillo and Jake Lamb in the second that gave the D-backs a 1-0 lead, Arizona had runners at first and second with two outs when Lamb got picked off second base.

"Not a good situation," Hale said. "That was not a good play by him."

Lamb said he and third-base coach Andy Green got their signals crossed up on the play.

"I got a big lead," Lamb said. "It was a little miscommunication on me and Greenie's part, but that's all my fault. I take the blame for that. I just got too far off second base."

McHugh's strong performance

Arizona also stranded a pair of runners in the fifth and seventh innings, letting Houston starter Collin McHugh off the hook both times.

For the game, the D-backs were just 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and they left eight runners on base.

"We just had situations we should have scored runs in and we didn't get the runs in," Hale said. "It would have made the score a lot closer. We just failed to do that so we have to tighten that up. You play a good team like this and hold them to four runs in this ballpark, you should have a chance to win it."

That might be the case, but both Lamb and veteran infielder Cliff Pennington said it was not for a lack of effort, or energy.

"That's how it looks," Pennington said. "Any time you score runs, you look like you have energy. When you don't, you don't. Definitely, there was a point in the middle of the game where we were down by three runs and it felt like we were down by eight. Sometimes that happens. You get a feeling, but then one big hit turns it all around. We just couldn't get it to spark. It wasn't a true lack of energy. We just didn't make the play that made it look like we had energy."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.