Yuma----C.C. Sabathia came up short in his bid to become the league’s first 11-game winner, and the visiting Luchadores won their fifth straight against West clubs as Las Vegas rallied on the road to score three runs in the top of the ninth against relievers Rafael Soriano (6-5, 3.52) and Aki Otsuka, who blew only his second save opportunity of the season.
Leading 4-3, Soriano allowed a leadoff single to ninth-place hitter Aubrey Huff, then walked Jimmy Rollins. Otsuka relieved Soriano, but promptly gave pinch-hitter Kevin Youkilis a free pass to load the bases.
That brought up Matt Holliday, who lined a ball sharply to third, where it was misplayed by Ryan Braum, tying the ballgame. Prince Fielder later added a sac fly after another walk sandwiched in a run, making a winner of Aaron Heilman (4-1, 4.90) when Mariano Rivera worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his BARB-leading 18th save of the season.
It was the fifth straight loss for Yuma, which was just swept by division rival Black Mesa, and capped a week that saw the club’s team ERA, which once led the loop, rise to 3.93----still above average, but only good for fourth in the league behind three Eastern clubs, and it raised concerns that Yuma’s pen was not as strong as it seemed. On a happier note, Raul Ibanez hit a three-run homer in the loss, his 10th of the season.
In other BARB action:
WORCESTER 5, DARWIN 4 (10 innings)
WP: Chad Cordero (4-2, 3.27)
LP: Trevor Hoffman (1-3, 4.64)
SV: Lidge (2)
Robinson Cano atoned for an earlier error with a go-ahead sac fly in the top of the tenth, and the Elims bullpen made the run stand up, retiring the Finches 1-2-3 to key the end of a seesaw affair that saw three blown saves between the two clubs. Speaking of blown saves, with Trevor Hoffman with a 4.64 ERA after a spotty June and July, can there be any doubt that fans are losing confidence in the aging closer?
S-MART 6, BLACK MESA 2
WP: Jose Valverde (3-4, 4.99)
LP: Ted Lilly (4-6, 5.32)
Gary Sheffield collected four hits, backup catcher David Ross added three hits, including a pair of home runs, and Jose Valverde managed to allow only two runs after being thrust into the rotation for an emergency start, as the pitching-strapped Boom Sticks found enough offense to best the Anomalies, on the road in Black Mesa.
ARIZONA 4, POTTSYLVANIA 0
WP: Brandon Webb (9-3, 2.37)
LP: Mike Mussina (2-5, 3.88)
SV: Nippert (1)
Brandon Webb and Dustin Nippert combined to scatter five singles and no walks, and the red-hot (.326) Mark Loretta drove in a pair of runs to lead the D-Backs offense, as "the other Melkonian team" pulled above .500 (41-40) for the first time in many weeks and within eight games of West-leading Yuma. The Creepers, meanwhile, suffered their BARB-leading 55th loss of the year.
OAKEYLAND 3, SAN JOSE 1
WP: Kevin Millwood (5-5, 4.16)
LP: David Riske (0-1, 24.55)
SV: Capellan (1)
Kevin Millwood lost a battle with Rockets starter John Lackey, but he and his club both won the war, as the Ballers rallied for three runs in the ninth after Lackey departed leading 1-0, handing the Rockets one of their toughest losses of the year. Lackey fanned nine and allowed only four hits, but Millwood didn’t falter until the eighth, and then gave up only a single run on Johnny Damon’s solo homer. With the win, the Ballers (45-40) remained just a half-game behind Las Vegas. Clearly, as the half approaches, there are two teams in the Central Division who are buyers, rather than sellers.