|NL West Leading Arizona Diamondbacks face Giants with lead slipping|
|Tuesday, 18 September 2007 11:00|
The Arizona Diamondbacks might be losing their grip on the NL West lead.
The Diamondbacks will look to remain in sole possession of first place Tuesday when they continue their three-game series with the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks (84-67) have dropped four of their last six games, including Monday's series-opening 8-5 loss. The defeat, combined with San Diego's win over Pittsburgh, shrank Arizona's division lead to just one game over the Padres.
Monday's loss was especially frustrating, as the Diamondbacks blew a 5-3, eighth-inning lead. Randy Winn and Pedro Feliz homered off reliever Tony Pena in the inning to help the last-place Giants (67-83) snap a four-game losing streak.
"We obviously know the significance of that game right there," said Arizona ace Brandon Webb, who allowed three runs in six innings. "We had it in our grasp and lost it. It was a big game for us. But we'll come right back tomorrow and play hard."
The Diamondbacks, who opened a six-game homestand after a 3-3 road trip, fell to 5-2 at home against the Giants, but have dropped the last two meetings at Chase Field. The overall season series stands at eight games apiece.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made San Diego -145 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 87% of bets for this game have been placed on San Diego -145 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Still, Arizona won't have to deal with San Francisco's biggest offensive threat as it tries to hold off the hard-charging Padres.
Home run king Barry Bonds sat out his second straight game Monday after spraining his right big toe on Saturday and will probably get a few more days off. Manager Bruce Bochy said that Bonds could be available when the Giants open their final homestand Thursday night against Cincinnati.
"He's still pretty sore," Bochy said. "He needs more time."
The Giants will miss Bonds in this series - he has hit . 467 (14-for-30) with four homers in 13 games against the Diamondbacks in 2007, and has 19 career homers at Arizona.
However, the Diamondbacks have injury woes of their own - they announced after the game that third baseman Chad Tracy would undergo season-ending surgery on his right knee on Thursday. Tracy, who is hitting .264 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 76 games, had struggled with the injury for much of the season.
Arizona starter Micah Owings (6-8, 4.78 ERA) returns to the mound Tuesday after having his last turn in the rotation skipped. He allowed 12 runs in 5 2-3 innings over his last two starts, including his last start on Sept. 8, when he allowed seven runs - two earned - in 2 2-3 innings in the Diamondbacks' 9-8 win over St. Louis.
The rookie right-hander is 1-7 over his last 14 starts after starting the season 5-1.
"The times that he has scuffled, he's been able to rebound and pitch very well for us," manager Bob Melvin told the Diamondbacks' team site. "We're still very confident that he will."
Owings' only previous start against the Giants came on July 1, when he was pounded for seven runs in four innings of a 13-0 loss. Ryan Klesko went 2-for-3 with a homer against him.
The Giants counter with Jonathan Sanchez (1-4, 5.29), who is facing Arizona for the second time in a week. He lasted just three-plus innings to lose to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, throwing 80 pitches and allowing three runs in a 9-4 loss opposite Webb.
The 24-year-old left-hander, who was making 32nd appearance of the season, fell to 0-2 with a 5.28 ERA in three starts this season. His only win as a member of the rotation came in his first major league start on Sept. 6 last season in Cincinnati.
Sanchez has made only one other start in his career against the Diamondbacks, allowing four runs - two earned - in six innings of a 6-3 loss on Sept. 27 last season. He has also made two relief outings against them, throwing a total of two scoreless innings.
by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us
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