Goldy's walk-off helps D-backs solve Beckett late
PHOENIX -- After Josh Beckett shut out his club through the first eight innings Sunday, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson turned to Eric Chavez in the dugout in the ninth inning and joked to the third baseman how funny it would be if the game ended on a weak, fluky hit.
A few batters and a seemingly harmless dribbler to the right side later, Gibson got his wish.
Following a standout 7 1/3 scoreless innings from Trevor Cahill to keep Arizona in the game, Paul Goldschmidt sneaked a seeing-eye RBI single into right field to drive in the winning run for a walk-off victory against Beckett and the Dodgers, giving the D-backs a 1-0 victory over their division rivals at Chase Field.
"That must've hurt them, but it made us feel very good," Gibson said. "It was a good game, glad we came out on top."
When the ball first came off Goldschmidt's bat, it appeared that Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis would get to it, but the rotation on the ball kept pushing it away from him and it eventually ended up in the outfield grass.
"Really, it was a bad swing, I was way out in front and got it off the end of the bat," Goldschmidt said. "But the way the sidespin was, it kept going away from Ellis. Where it started out, I thought he would be able to knock it down, but the sidespin kept spinning toward first base. I just tried to get a good pitch to hit and luckily it found a hole."
A.J. Pollock, who came off the bench in the fourth inning when Aaron Hill left the game with left wrist soreness, doubled with one out in the ninth to set up Goldschmidt's heroics two batters later. The outfielder picked on a Beckett fastball over the plate and drove it into the left-center-field gap. Immediately out of the batter's box, Pollock decided to test Carl Crawford's arm and go for two bases.
"When you hit the ball in the gap like that with the way Beckett is throwing, you kind of think it might be a good risk to take," Pollock said. "Beckett didn't make too many mistakes, he was hitting corner in and corner out, but he left that one a little over. I was surprised to see it really."
Sunday's victory gave the D-backs a series win over the Dodgers after the club opened its six-game homestand by losing two out of three to the Pirates. In their last 15 games against the Dodgers, the D-backs are 12-3.
"Good game, good series win, they are a very good team and that's the way it's going to be when we play this year," Gibson said. "We had a hiccup against the Pirates, but we bounced back and took two out of three. We enjoy it that way."
Goldschmidt's walk-off hit wouldn't have been possible without the stellar effort by Cahill, who entered the game after posting two shaky outings in losses to begin the season. He ended up allowing just six hits on Sunday while walking none and striking out four Dodgers, a team he is undefeated against in his career.
"Cahill was outstanding -- he's tough, he pounds the strike zone, as tough as anybody we face," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "He has movement on the ball and deception."
Early on in the game, Cahill saw the type of stuff Beckett was working with and recognized he'd need to be spot on to give his team a chance of winning.
"I knew one run might be the deciding factor today," Cahill said. "When a guy is throwing like that, you just try to match it. What's nice is you get in kind of a rhythm. There wasn't a huge wait in between innings. Of course you want to score runs, but it's nice to get back out there right away sometimes, too."
Cahill escaped jams in the fourth and seventh innings, but his afternoon came to an end in the eighth following a Nick Punto leadoff single and a Beckett sacrifice bunt.
Gibson admitted it was difficult to remove his starting pitcher from the game while he was working on a shutout, but he felt the situation called for it. Tony Sipp and Brad Ziegler then recorded the final two outs of the inning to strand the runner at third base and ensure Cahill wouldn't take a loss.
"I just had a feeling -- it was a tight game and Crawford was 0-for-6 against Tony Sipp and I also liked Ziegler behind him," Gibson said. "It was tough to take him out, but I did what I thought was right and those guys got the job done."
For what it's worth, Cahill harbored no hard feelings towards Gibson for making the move.
"It was very understandable. I'm never going to question the manager, because if it was up to me, I'd never come out," he said. "They bailed me out, too."
J.J. Putz tossed a clean ninth and earned his first win of the season, while Beckett took the hard-luck loss after pitching 8 1/3 shutout innings before the walk-off.
"He was incredible," Gibson said. "He was very tough, we just had to hang in there against him, and we did."