Prado's hot bat, D-backs' stellar defense fuel win
Arizona turns club-record six double plays to send off Rays
PHOENIX -- Throughout his well-documented struggles in the first half of the season in which he hit just .246, Martin Prado admitted to trying to be something he wasn't. He wanted so badly to fill the void left by Justin Upton that he tried too hard to prove his worth in Arizona instead of just being himself.
That sort of thinking, however, appears to be long behind him.
Ever since the calendar flipped to July, the 29-year-old has been steadily turning back into vintage Prado, culminating with arguably his best performance in a D-backs uniform to date on Wednesday night.
In a back-and-forth affair, Prado proved to be the difference at Chase Field, going 4-for-4 with four RBIs and driving in both the tying and winning runs as the D-backs rallied from two separate deficits to down the Rays, 9-8, completing a two-game sweep.
"There were a lot of questions and there were a lot of people asking me why I had a tough first half, but I think every single player has gone through what I went through," Prado said. "I moved on and I'm here for my team. I'm feeling better and I worked hard to be in the position I'm in now."
Trailing by a run in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and one out, Prado deposited an offering from Fernando Rodney into right field, driving in a pair to cap off his memorable night, in which he also smacked a two-run homer.
"We couldn't have had a better guy up there. Rodney is very good, he's very hard to get to, but we had the right guy up there," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's rolling right now."
Rolling indeed. Over his last 17 games, Prado is batting .413 with eight doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs. Although it's still probably not where he'd hope it would be, the veteran's average on the season has crept up to .274, the highest it has been since April 16.
"Sometimes you go through a rough patch, I've gone through a few," Prado said. "But I'm still going to be the same guy, I've learned that. Sometimes you just need confidence."
Before Prado's heroics, the D-backs were up by three runs in the seventh until Josh Collmenter and Will Harris combined to give up a four-spot to the Rays, the D-backs' first blown save since July 1. An inning later though, Gerardo Parra's one-out single after Didi Gregorius walked gave the D-backs runners on the corners with Adam Eaton at the plate. Hoping to lay down a safety squeeze to bring home the tying run, Eaton instead worked a walk to load the bases for Prado, who gave the game its fifth and final lead change.
"This was a boxing match tonight," Eaton said. "They punched us and we punched back. It was nice to get the knockout blow."
Even though the club didn't gain any ground in its playoff push Wednesday with both the Dodgers and Reds winning, Arizona still came away feeling like this game might be looked back on if the team is still standing in September.
"This is one of those wins that tells you when you can go out there and compete," Prado said. "That's what we're looking for, to finish strong as a team."
Aside from Prado, the biggest reason the D-backs were able to come from behind Wednesday was due to their defense. Arizona turned a franchise-record six double plays against the Rays, including one to end the game with two men on.
"That's who we are, that's a good sign to see," Gibson said. "It's been a while since we played like this."
Although he didn't factor into the decision, D-backs starter Randall Delgado struggled for the second straight outing, lasting just five innings and allowing four runs on eight hits. The right-hander's line could've been much worse if it weren't for the standout defense behind him. Cody Ross threw out a runner at second base and Gregorius began one of the best double plays of the year, ranging to his right to snag a grounder before throwing from his pants to second base.
"He makes such unbelievable plays," Prado said of Gregorius. "I never thought he was going to get to the ball, then he got rid of it so quick. It was unbelievable."
Pounding out 12 hits as a team, four D-backs had multi-hit nights including Eric Chavez and Aaron Hill, who combined for three RBIs while Paul Goldschmidt drove in his 90th run of the season.
"Give them credit, man, they played really well," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They fought well. It was a very entertaining baseball game. ... The Diamondbacks had themselves a pretty good night."