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Puig's home run sends Collmenter to defeat

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LOS ANGELES - It only takes one in this game.

Just ask Diamondbacks’ starter Josh Collmenter.

The D-backs’ right-hander was sailing along with a two-hitter into the sixth inning when Carl Crawford’s RBI triple broke a scoreless game and then one pitch sealed Collmenter’s fate. Yasiel Puig followed with a three-run home run, the difference-maker, and the Dodgers defeated the D-backs, 4-1 before 37,447 Sunday afternoon.

This seemed to be a pick-your-poison moment.

With Crawford on third with none out, Collmenter retired Hanley Ramirez on a pop-up to third. Arizona manager Kirk Gibson then decided to walk Adrian Gonzalez to get to Puig. The rationale, according to Gibson, was the Diamondbacks had a better chance to get Puig than Gonzalez.

“That’s not an easy decision,” said catcher Miguel Montero. “They are all good hitters and (Puig) put a good swing on it. Look, it’s already done and you have to make a better pitch, period.”

The plan was to jam Puig but that did not happen.

“I wanted to come inside but the pitch came back over the plate,” Collmenter said. “The triple by Crawford was a good pitch, down and it and he just lifted it. The pitch to Puig is the only pitch I’d like to have back.”

In an April clouded by suspect starting pitching, Collmenter was thrust into the rotation nearly by default. When Randall Delgado and Trevor Cahill failed to answer the bell and both banished to the bullpen, the native of Homer, Mich. was called up to stop the bleeding.

In facing the Dodgers in his second start since exiled from the bullpen, Collmenter dropped those two decisions and surrendered a total of seven runs in 11 innings. That has been a quite a difference than what was expected.

The Diamondbacks had an opportunity to gain their second straight road series win, but failed to solve Josh Beckett, the L. A. starter. Though Becket was taken out after five innings, the 33 year-old from Spring, Tex. limited the Diamondbacks to one hit and walked two. That hit was a single by Miguel Montero leading off he second but was thrown out by Puig trying to stretch into a double.

Meanwhile, Collmenter stayed with Becket for five innings but the Dodgers broke the game open in the sixth with that four spot.

“The Dodgers struck hard and quickly in this series,” Gibson said. “We struck out, what 13, 14 times (Sunday). We’re better than that.”

Perhaps, but the D-backs have not supported that observation so far this season.

Adding to the existing maladies, the Diamondbacks seem to be striking out with regularity. In the two final two games at Dodger Stadium, they fanned 21 times, including 14 in Sunday’s finale.

“Really, I don’t have an answer for that,” was all Gibson’s explanation on the plethora of the recent strikeouts.

In addition to the strikeouts, the Diamondbacks managed only three hits against five Los Angeles pitchers and left five runners on base. Eric Chavez drove in the only run with a seventh inning double.

Montero’s second inning single and Paul Goldschmidt’s leading off single in the seventh (scoring the only Arizona run) represented the D-backs offense.

PAIN IN THE NECK

Centerfielder A. J. Pollock left the game in the sixth inning with a strained neck.

This happened earlier this season in a game at Colorado but this time, he was taken out of the game with haste.

“It happened the first time at bat,” Pollock explained. “It just locked up. As soon as I came out, I started to get treatment and should be okay. I could probably go tomorrow (Monday against the Cubs). We’ll see how things develop overnight.”

Tony Campana replaced Pollock and struck out in his only time at the plate.

LOOKING AHEAD

The pitching match-ups for the up-coming Cubs series at Wrigley Field has Bronson Arroyo (1-1, 9.95 ERA) opening the set against lefty Travis Wood (0-2, 3.00 ERA)

On Tuesday, Brandon McCarthy (0-3, 7.11) goes against righty Jason Hammel (2-1, 3.05). Wade Miley (2-2, 4.33) gets the start Wednesday afternoon against righty Jeff Samardzja (0-2, 1.29) and the series concludes Thursday afternoon with Mike Bolsinger (0-1, 10.29) against former D-back Edwin Jackson (1-1, 5.40)

On Wednesday, the Diamondbacks will be part of history because that is the 100th anniversary of the first game played on the site. The stadium was opened as Weeghman Park and the Chicago Federals defeated Kansas City in a Federal League game. The Cubs and Diamondbacks are slated to wear the uniforms of the teams which opened the ball park on Chicago’s North Side.

RETURN ENGAGEMENT

Given what officials believe was a successful venture with the Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers in Sydney, reports now circulate of more baseball coming to Australia.

Because of the interest generated and two sellouts for the two D-backs-Dodgers games last month, Andrew Webster, writing recently in the Sydney Morning Herald, reports that the New York Yankees could be one team considered for 2018.

Though Webster would not confirm his source nor have any conformation from the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust, there is a confidence that major league baseball will return to Sydney.

Jamie Barkley, the chief executive for the Cricket Ground, is reported ready to sign the Yankees and the Oakland A’s to start the 2018 season at the hallowed Cricket Ground, Webster speculated. If there is a deal, Webster says the agreement could be signed by the end of the year.

That would make the timing somewhat inconsistent with the D-backs-Dodgers series. That’s because news that the Diamondbacks and Dodgers would open the 2014 season in Sydney first surfaced last June. That was less than one year out from the event and the signing of the Yankees, if this is one team and their opponent, would be nearly four years from now.

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