Goldy's HR forces extras, but D-backs fall in 10

September 7th, 2018

PHOENIX -- When they came back to tie the game with two outs in the ninth inning Thursday night at Chase Field, the D-backs felt like they were on their way to a storybook ending.

Instead, it was another gut-wrenching loss as they fell, 7-6, to the Braves, who scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch in the 10th.

"We've got to spit this one out, turn the page and get ready for tomorrow," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "It's all we can do."

It was the fifth loss in the last six games for the D-backs, who fell a season-high 2 1/2 games behind the idle first-place Rockies in the National League West. The D-backs are also one game behind the Dodgers, who were also idle.

This was the start of a 17-game stretch in which the D-backs will only face teams that are currently in first place in their respective divisions.

The D-backs had their ace, Zack Greinke, on the mound, but the right-hander struggled from the beginning and did not appear sharp, allowing a pair of first-inning runs, one of which scored when left fielder missed a fly ball.

All game long, it felt like the D-backs were facing an uphill struggle. Despite that, they found a way to keep getting back into it.

Trailing 4-0, the D-backs scored three runs in the fourth on Nick Ahmed's two-out bases-clearing double.

Down 6-4 in the ninth, the D-backs rallied against . Pinch-hitter led off with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch, before scoring on A.J. Pollock's sacrifice fly.

One out later, battled back from an 0-2 count to launch a 2-2 curveball into the left-field bleachers to tie the game and force extra innings.

"We were just trying to go backdoor down," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said of the pitch. "That guy is dangerous. We didn't quite get it there, and he hung on long enough to backspin it to left. It was one of those risk-reward pitches. I might have called something different had I had another shot at it."

Lovullo went with closer Brad Boxberger to start the 10th, and after retiring the first two hitters, Boxberger allowed back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners.

then drew a walk, and Lovullo decided to bring in to face .

"I wanted to make sure we were going to be able to throw strikes to the hitter," Lovullo said. "Box looked like he had really good stuff, but he started to get nicked up. The pitch count was climbing. I just felt like a fresh arm and a fresh situation was going to give us an opportunity to get out of that inning."

However, Hirano bounced a split-finger fastball in the dirt, and it got by catcher Alex Avila as Dansby Swanson scored from third for the game-winning run.

BOXED IN

Despite Boxberger's recent struggles, Lovullo again said that he would remain the team's closer. Lovullo has tweaked the way the team gets to Boxberger. For instance, the D-backs have used left-hander against the leadoff batter in the ninth if it's a left-handed hitter. Thursday also marked the second straight appearance that Lovullo has removed Boxberger before the closer has given up a run.

"Definitely frustration with the way our lineup battled to get back in it in the ninth inning there, and I just couldn't hold on," Boxberger said. "Two quick outs and a ground ball up the middle, and then an infield single. I just couldn't get the job done."

HE SAID IT

"I'm trying. I'm trying my best. Like I told you last year, I didn't just get dumb over the last two weeks. A very, very close friend of mine who was a Hall of Fame manager told me that several times. You just don't get stupid overnight. It just ain't working." -- Lovullo, on his recent bullpen decisions

UP NEXT

The D-backs continue their series with the Braves on Friday night at 6:40 p.m. MST with (10-5, 3.06 ERA) set to take the mound at Chase Field. The left-hander did not get a decision in his last start against the Dodgers, when he tossed five scoreless innings. He is 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA in eight career games (six starts) against Atlanta. Right-hander (9-9, 3.78) will get the start for the Braves.