Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sanchez ends D-backs win streak

By Anthony Fenech / MLB.com | 05/31/11

PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson likes to keep his team humble.

But on Tuesday night, it was Marlins starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez who humbled them in a 5-2 defeat at Chase Field, snapping the team's seven-game win streak.

On the mound, Sanchez threw eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out eight, as he picked up his fifth victory of the season in dominant fashion.

And at the plate, he drove in a pair of runs on groundouts.

"We ran into a very good pitcher tonight on the other side," Gibson said. "He pitched a heck of a game. You have to tip your cap to him."

One day removed from an offensive outburst, scoring 15 runs on 19 hits in a Memorial Day victory, the D-backs were limited to two opportunities with multiple runners on base.

"He dealt with those situations well," Gibson said, noting the 27-year-old right-hander's ability to change his pitch sequence throughout the game.

Added Kelly Johnson, who struck out and hit a solo home run in the eighth: "I haven't seen something like that in a while, just in terms of being so off-balance. I never felt comfortable."

Johnson's home run and a solo shot from Justin Upton in the first inning accounted for all of Arizona's offense on the night.

D-backs starter Ian Kennedy, winner of his past three decisions coming in, never found a groove, was touched up in the fourth inning and only lasted five innings.

"It's frustrating," Kennedy said. "You want to continue the streak, but it wasn't my night and it falls on me."

Kennedy allowed three runs, struck out four and walked three. He threw two wild pitches and hit a batter.

"I wasn't throwing strikes with anything," he said. "I beat myself, that's what I feel like."

Leading 1-0 in the fourth, Kennedy allowed a single to Greg Dobbs and a double to Mike Stanton, and then walked John Buck.

With the bases loaded, he allowed a full-count walk to Emilio Bonifacio to tie the game, followed by an RBI groundout to shortstop from Sanchez for a 2-1 Marlins lead.

"They did a good job of working him," Gibson said. "They got his pitch count up, extended him in the second, third and fourth innings and he maybe wasn't as sharp as he has been in the past."

Kennedy's five innings pitched were his fewest since throwing three innings on April 13 against the Cardinals, and the loss snapped his career-high five-game win streak.

In the fifth, Logan Morrison led off with an opposite-field home run. In the sixth, Sanchez drove in his second run of the game with a groundout to third base and Gaby Sanchez hit his ninth home run of the season to left field in the seventh.

"You have to give the Marlins credit," Gibson said. "They made the most of their opportunities and got five runs on the board."

Said Morrison: "You can never have enough runs in this ballpark. Those guys are young and strong and they just keep coming at you."

The Marlins victory snaps a two-game losing streak where they were outscored 23-4 and outhit 36-6.

Xavier Nady's pinch-hit flyout to left with two outs and two men on in the seventh ended the D-backs' final threat for a comeback.

Both Upton and Johnson have homered in consecutive games and Johnson is riding a season-high seven-game hitting streak.

"It's just hitting the ball hard and where it goes, it goes," Johnson said. "That's the way it goes sometimes."

Sanchez picked up his fourth consecutive victory, five days after shutting out the Giants in San Francisco.

"I've always thought he was good," Johnson said. "But tonight was special, I'll say that."

Marlins closer Leo Nunez took over for Sanchez and notched his NL-leading 19th save with a flawless ninth inning.

Arizona remains in sole possession of first place in the NL West, a half-game ahead of San Francisco.

"They'll come back tomorrow," Gibson said of his team. "We've been on an exceptional run."

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