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D-backs take positives from tough loss, sweep

ST. LOUIS -- The D-backs were three outs away from securing a win Wednesday night and avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Cardinals. They had their best reliever, Brad Ziegler, on the mound. This game belonged to them.

And then it didn't.

The Cardinals rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth to send the D-backs into Thursday's off-day with a 4-3 loss and a lot of wondering about what could have been.

Yes, the D-backs were swept, but they actually walked out of Busch Stadium feeling better about themselves than they did when they arrived.

They stood toe-to-toe with the team that owns the best record in the National League, and came away having been outscored by a total of four runs in three games.

"We definitely know we can play with one of the best teams in the league, for sure," Ziegler said. "We were right there every game. I think it shows some areas where we can grow as a team. Try to win some of those close games instead of losing them. We were real close."

That was certainly the case when Ziegler took the mound to start the bottom of the ninth, but that changed quickly when Jason Heyward hit a 1-1 changeup just inside the right-field foul pole for a game-tying homer.

"Just a terrible changeup," Ziegler said. "I'm trying to throw it down, maybe even out of the zone, and I threw it down and in to him. Not anywhere close to where I wanted to throw. Give him credit, he jumped all over it."

Pinch-hitter Peter Bourjos then singled and moved to second on a groundout by Kolten Wong. Ziegler than intentionally walked Matt Carpenter before unintentionally walking Matt Holliday to load the bases with one out.

"I think the home run rattled me a little bit," Ziegler said.

The thing that makes Ziegler so good as a reliever is that with his sinker, he's always one pitch away from getting a double play.

That's what it looked like he had gotten when Jhonny Peralta hit a grounder to Yasmany Tomas at third. Tomas threw home to backup catcher Jordan Pacheco -- who entered the game in the sixth when Tuffy Gosewisch got hurt -- for the out at home.

Pacheco pivoted to throw to first, and as his arm was moving forward, Bourjos slid into his back leg and his throw sailed down the right-field line, allowing Carpenter to come around from second with the game-winner.

"I tried to get out of there as quick as I could," Pacheco said. "He's a fast guy and that's what happens when you have speed on the bases. He got me and I couldn't hold up and I was already pretty much throwing. It was a good slide."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.
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