D-backs fall shy in NY with rookie KO'd early

D-backs fall shy in NY with rookie KO'd early

D-backs fall shy in NY with rookie KO'd early
NEW YORK -- En route to a National League West title in 2011, the Arizona Diamondbacks were 28-16 in one-run games.

So far this year, the ability to pull those games out has eluded them.

The D-backs dropped their 10th one-run game of the year, this one a 4-3 loss to the Mets on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field.

Arizona is 4-10 in one-run games, and one of the big reasons is the D-backs' struggles to hit with runners in scoring position. On Saturday, they were 1-for-11 in those situations.

"We've got to get better at that," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "You talk about losing one-run games, we've played well, we haven't hit well with guys in scoring position. There's just so many ways to counteract those one-run losses and we've got to get to work and get after those things."

Avoiding four-run innings by the opposition would also help the D-backs these days.

The Mets scored four runs in an inning of the first game of the series Friday night, the D-backs managed to rally for a 5-4 win.

This time, a four-run fourth proved to be too steep a climb.

"They've had two four-run innings in two days," Gibson said. "It's hard to overcome them."

Arizona grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second on Saturday, when Ryan Roberts homered to left on a ball that would not have been a homer under the previous Citi Field dimensions.

Things were looking good for the D-backs as rookie left-hander Patrick Corbin, who was making his second big league start, cruised through the first three innings.

There were some troubling signs, though, as Corbin continued to fall behind in counts. Of the 17 batters he faced, he got strike one on just five.

"I think I was trying to be a little too perfect," Corbin said. "Trying to throw a perfect pitch instead of attacking him better. I just think that's the thing these last two games, I've been giving them too much credit and not going after them like I did in Spring Training. So it's something I'm going to try and work on."

Things finally caught up to Corbin in the fourth.

After Scott Hairston was retired to start the inning, Corbin allowed back-to-back singles to Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner before walking Kirk Nieuwenhuis to load the bases.

Mike Nickeas then delievered a two-run single to right-center to put the Mets up 2-1.

"I swung through a couple pitches, a couple changeups he had thrown me," Nickeas said. "I was just trying to see the ball and hit it, trying to do something for us, trying to hopefully spark a big inning. And fortunately enough, it did."

That spelled the end of the day for Corbin as Josh Collmenter came on to face Johan Santana, who promptly sacrificed the runners to second and third.

Andres Torres followed by golfing a Collmenter curveball that seemed to be just an inch off the ground for a bloop single to center that scored two more runs and gave the Mets a 4-1 lead.

"I wanted to make sure I didn't throw it for a good pitch to hit," Collmenter said. "I thought it was going to be down and at the last second he throws his bat at it. Little do you know it's going to be the difference in the game. You want to come in and pick up the starter, I mean, he battled and everything, so it was unfortunate it worked out like that."

Arizona made things close in the fifth, when Paul Goldschmidt delivered a two-run double to make it 4-3.

Santana, notching his first win this season, scattered nine hits while allowing three runs over seven innings.

"He was getting ahead and throwing a lot of strikes," Goldschmidt said. "Threw all three of his pitches for strikes, slider changeup fastball. When a guy's doing that, you're battling. We weren't able to do enough against him."

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.