Turns out it was a good thing the D-backs did not decide to skip Armando Galarraga in the rotation.
Backed by outstanding defense from center fielder Chris Young, Galarraga tossed seven quality innings as the D-backs avoided a sweep with a 6-4 win over the Cubs on a chilly Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
With a snowout Sunday in Denver, the D-backs had the option of skipping Galarraga, the team's No. 5 starter, but manager Kirk Gibson instead elected to give each pitcher an extra day of rest and stay in rotation.
Galarraga got some help early on as Young made diving plays on the first two batters of the game.
"It was great," Galarraga said. "That's a key for pitchers like me. I'm not a power pitcher, so it was really nice when I got those two catches in the first inning. It gave me more momentum, I could be more aggressive."
The more impressive of the two plays was when Young dove in right-center to just snare Kosuke Fukudome's leadoff drive. The ball landed in the top of the webbing of Young's glove.
"You try to be ready for the first play," Young said. "A lot of people say it, but you're not always ready for the diving play. [Fukudome] was in a hitter's count, so I went over to the right-center-field gap a little bit just to cheat a little bit in case he got the head out and pulls the ball. My position put me in a good place to be able to make an attempt at a play."
Young was also in the middle of things offensively for the D-backs as they gave Galarraga some early run support with a two-run third inning.
With two outs in the frame, Willie Bloomquist, who has been outstanding in filling in for injured shortstop Stephen Drew, singled to center and proceeded to steal his fifth base of the year.
Young then hit a sinking line drive that center fielder Marlon Byrd dove for and missed. As the ball skipped past him, Bloomquist scored and Young headed for third. When left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who was backing up on the play, fumbled the ball while trying to pick it up, Young continued around to score.
"An inch here, I catch that ball and it's 0-0 instead of 2-0 and give [Cubs starter Ryan] Dempster a little comfort," Byrd said. "That's the game of baseball -- I'm always going to be aggressive. Hopefully, I get that ball next time and make it easier on him."
That Bloomquist was on second was, in Young's mind, the crucial reason things transpired the way they did.
"I give the credit to Willie on that one," Young said. "If he doesn't steal second base right there, Marlon doesn't probably take the gamble on that ball. If the ball drops, it's an RBI. If Willie were just on first base, [Byrd] probably just lets it drop and lets the inning keep going."
Galarraga did not allow his first hit until Byrd led off the fourth with a single to center. Aramis Ramirez followed with a home run into the basket in left to tie the game.
A key for Galarraga was the fact that he was able to locate his slider, and he stayed in the game until Fukudome led off the eighth with a single.
"He looked great," catcher Miguel Montero said of Galarraga. "He looked aggressive the whole time, he worked ahead in the count. He went out there and competed, it was impressive."
"When I have command of my slider is when I have really good games," Galarraga said.
The D-backs retook the lead in the fifth, when Bloomquist, Young and Kelly Johnson had back-to-back-to-back RBI hits off Dempster, who fell to 0-2.
"I would've liked to have made a couple better pitches with runners on base," said Dempster, who allowed 10 hits in his seven innings of work. "I made a lot of good pitches today, and sometimes maybe a little better pitch here or there would've helped get ahead of the count. I liked the way I was throwing the ball. I just didn't get the results I wanted."
Things got a little dicey in the eighth, but reliever Juan Gutierrez was able to limit the damage to just one run, and J.J. Putz closed things out in the ninth for his second save in as many outings this year.
Source- MLB.com Gameday | dbacks.com: Gameday