Friday, May 20, 2011

D-Backs survive late drama to win

Lefty Paterson notches first career save

By Anthony Fenech / | 05/20/11

PHOENIX -- It wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy, but the D-backs have their longest winning streak of the season.

Propelled by a five-run seventh inning and another strong pitching performance from Ian Kennedy, the D-backs narrowly escaped a crushing collapse in an 8-7 victory over the Twins Friday night at Chase Field.

"That was a fun game there," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Standing on the railing with Minnesota pressuring us, you say, 'This is fun here.'"

But after a four-run D-backs lead evaporated to one, after three consecutive Twins' hits followed by three consecutive walks threatened to steal the fun, left-handed reliever Joe Paterson was called on to get the job done.

Paterson struck out Jason Kubel and induced a ground ball from Justin Morneau, stranding the game-tying run at third base for his first career save, and the D-backs' fourth straight victory.

"The last time I took him out, he said he wanted to stay in," Gibson said. "We found out tonight, didn't we?"

Paterson's save came after the usually-reliable back end of the D-backs bullpen faltered in the ninth. After retiring the first batter of the inning, Juan Gutierrez gave up a home run to Danny Valencia and a single to Delmon Young before being removed for David Hernandez, who gave up a double and three straight walks before Gibson called on Paterson.

"It was a tight situation," said Paterson, who responded with tight breaking balls to secure the win.

"It's my go-to pitch, and I thought I'd stay with it in that situation," he said. "I needed something in the infield or a strikeout. I got fortunate enough to get it."

The D-backs 25-year-old rookie has now recorded 19 straight scoreless appearances to begin his career, a franchise record.

"He was very composed, took his time and threw strikes," Gibson said.

After both teams' starting pitchers kept offense at a premium through the first six innings, a five-run seventh inning appeared to break the game open in the D-backs favor.

Shortstop Stephen Drew led off the seventh with a home run to right, his third of the season, to tie the game at two. Chris Young then followed with a double, and Miguel Montero and Xavier Nady recorded back-to-back singles to chase Twins starter Brian Duensing.

After a failed sacrifice preceded a successful sacrifice, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire elected to intentionally walk Willie Bloomquist, loading the bases for Ryan Roberts.

Roberts promptly laced a double into left-center, scoring three runs.

"It was the only really good pitch I saw all night," Roberts said. "I got a good pitch and ended up driving it."

Kennedy picked up his second straight victory and fifth this season, pitching 7 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on six hits.

"My fastball command was good tonight," Kennedy said. "I had to really rely on my defense because [the Twins] were real aggressive and put the ball in play early on, which allowed me to go into the eighth."

Kennedy struck out three and walked one.

"Overall, Ian's been what Ian's been all year," Gibson said.

He was lifted for Aaron Heilman with two outs in the eighth after a 10-pitch at-bat with Trevor Plouffe resulted in a walk.

"He's a pretty good pitcher," Gardenhire said. "He's got a great sinker, a great slider, a heck of a changeup and he was pretty good tonight."

Four D-backs recorded multi-hit games in the team's first four-game win streak since May of last year.

Said Gibson, of the streak: "Let's make it five."

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