D-backs unable to fend off Dodgers' clincher

D-backs unable to fend off Dodgers' clincher

D-backs unable to fend off Dodgers' clincher

PHOENIX -- For 67 days this summer, nearly 10 weeks, the D-backs stood atop the National League West standings. But as the season wore on, the Dodgers arose from the cellar and rallied from 9 1/2 games back to overtake Arizona, eventually running away with the division.

Fast-forward to this week and entering the four-game set between the two rivals, the D-backs were resigned to the fact that the Dodgers would eventually capture the division title. But that didn't mean they wanted to see the actual celebration in person.

One win away from forcing Los Angeles to take its party to another ballpark, the D-backs jumped out to a three-run lead after three innings Thursday, but like their lead in the division over the summer, the club was unable to hold off the surging Dodgers, who rallied to win, 7-6, at Chase Field to clinch the NL West.

"Dodgers played a great game," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I want to congratulate Don Mattingly and his team. They've had a great second half, from where they've come from, it's been impressive. They've not only done this to us today, but to many other teams."

With the score tied at 6 in the eighth, A.J. Ellis deposited the first pitch of the inning from Josh Collmenter into the left-field bleachers for the game-winning run. Six D-backs outs later, the club could only look on as the Dodgers celebrated on its field.

"We were in first place for a long time and let it slip away," D-backs starter Wade Miley said. "To watch them do that, it's hard to swallow, but that's the way it goes."

While most of the D-backs players and coaches returned to the clubhouse once the game concluded, Gibson decided to stay and soak it all in. He wanted to experience the disappointment.

"That's where we want to be," Gibson said. "We weren't on the side we want, but you still take it in and reflect on some things. It's disappointing, but we fought hard."

With 10 games remaining, Arizona's elimination number from the Wild Card now sits at one.

Although he didn't factor into the decision, Miley turned in a subpar performance by his standards, struggling with his command throughout his outing, walking four batters and giving up five hits over five innings. Despite the issues he faced, the left-hander managed to limit the Dodgers to three runs, all coming on Hanley Ramirez's first of two home runs.

"I just wasn't throwing strikes," Miley said. "I tried to keep it there, but it was a battle today."

In a 3-0 hole, the D-backs' hopes of winning early on didn't look very promising facing Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco, who entered the game with an 0.83 ERA and three victories in three starts vs. Arizona this year. In the third inning, however, the D-backs batted around, stringing together seven hits for six runs as they tripled their offensive production against Nolasco in their previous 23 2/3 innings facing him.

After back-to-back singles put two men on with nobody out, Paul Goldschmidt got the scoring rally started with an RBI double to right-center field. The next batter, Martin Prado, then proceeded to tie the game at 3, smacking a two-run triple down the right-field line. Later in the inning, Miguel Montero added an RBI single to give Arizona its first lead before Miley blooped a two-run double into left field to cap off the outburst.

The D-backs' lead, just like the Dodgers', wouldn't last though.

Will Harris surrendered two runs in the sixth before Ramirez launched his second homer of the day in the seventh off Chaz Roe, a solo shot to left to tie the game at 6 and set up Ellis' heroics an inning later. In all, the D-backs' bullpen combined to give up four runs in four innings and blew its 27th save of the season, which ranks second in the Majors.

"That's the sport, that's just baseball," Prado said. "This year it was them, maybe next year it's us. I think we didn't secure the way we should but sometimes you have to learn from mistakes. Sometimes it's not going to go the way you want it. We did everything we could, we just couldn't finish. Now we just have to move on and be ready for next season."

Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.