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Drought in the desert

World champs struggling to score runs without Gonzo

Posted: Thursday October 03, 2002 8:15 PM
Updated: Friday October 04, 2002 2:09 AM

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks sure miss Luis Gonzalez. Without their most dangerous hitter, the defending World Series champions scored just three runs in the first two games of the NL division series against St. Louis.

Now, they're facing a quick exit from the postseason.

The Diamondbacks managed only six hits in a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals in Game 2 on Thursday and must win three straight to avoid elimination, beginning with Game 3 on Saturday night in St. Louis.

"When one guy gets hot, that's when a lot of guys get hot," catcher Damian Miller said. "You get timely hits, and you string hits together. Lately, we just can't string any hits together and drive in those runs."

Gonzalez, who led the team with 28 homers and 103 RBIs this season, separated his left shoulder in a collision with shortstop Tony Womack while the two were chasing a pop fly in St. Louis on Sept. 23.

The All-Star slugger hit 57 homers last year and has topped 100 RBIs four straight seasons. He got the game-winning hit in Game 7 of the World Series last season against the New York Yankees.

Wearing a sling on his left arm, Gonzalez threw out the first pitch before Game 2 at Bank One Ballpark. He had surgery Monday and vows he will be ready to play by the start of spring training.

But the Diamondbacks need him now, in October.

Without Gonzalez, they have just 12 singles and two doubles in the first two games of the playoffs.

Junior Spivey, who led the team in batting (.301) and runs scored (103) during the regular season, is 2-for-10 in the series. He squandered a couple of RBI chances Thursday.

"I'm a good enough hitter to come up with big hits in big opportunities, and I wasn't able to do it with two outs and runners in scoring position," Spivey said.

An error by St. Louis helped Arizona score its only run in Game 2, on Quinton McCracken's RBI double in the eighth inning. Miller also doubled for the Diamondbacks.

After Randy Johnson was roughed up in Game 1, the Diamondbacks couldn't muster enough offense to support a strong outing from their other ace, Curt Schilling.

"It's a little deflating when you've got those two big horses and you're 0-2," Miller said. "It's not the best feeling in the world."

Schilling allowed just one run in seven innings, but that's all Arizona could push across the plate against Cardinals lefty Chuck Finley and four relievers.

"He just pitched a good game," said Mark Grace, who flied out as a pinch-hitter to end the eighth. "Great pitchers are going to do those kinds of things, and it doesn't matter how good your offense is. When guys are pitching like that, the runs are going to come tough."

Matt Williams came close to a home run when he led off the fourth with a long shot to left center, the deepest part of the park. Jim Edmonds caught the drive near the 413-foot sign.

The Diamondbacks were thwarted in the fifth inning, when they got two runners aboard for the first time since the first.

That threat ended when Spivey hit a hard grounder to Scott Rolen at third.

In the sixth, Steve Finley got the fourth and final hit off Finley -- but with two outs. Arizona put two on in the seventh, but Rick White got Spivey on a slow roller to Rolen.


 
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