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Grit Index: Pennington’s heroics give D-backs win in longest game of 2013

As if the Arizona Diamondbacks’ glaring deficiencies weren’t on display over the course of the first nine games of their season-long 10-game road trip, Thursday’s afternoon affair at Citi Field certainly exposed just how vulnerable the National League West’s top team is at the moment.

Twice, the D-backs went ahead in extra innings. Twice, their bullpen — in particular Heath Bell and Chaz Roe — responded by giving up game-tying home runs to Anthony Recker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the 13th and 14th innings.

Luckily for the D-backs, though, they have the Marathon Man himself, Cliff Pennington (8-for-11 in extra-inning at-bats).

In the top of the 15th, Pennington delivered his third game-winning hit of the season, and the second in a game that went at least 15 innings. The veteran infielder’s single off Scott Rice put the D-backs ahead for good, as they went on to salvage the final game of their four-game series with a 5-4 win over the New York Mets.

The game was the longest of the season for the D-backs at five hours and 46 minutes, and second longest in team history.

With the win, the D-backs improved to 10-3 in extra-inning games.

The Good:

D-backs starter Ian Kennedy hasn’t won since June 1, and a nice outing against the Mets on July 4 wasn’t enough to set him free either. Regardless, Kennedy threw the ball extremely well, allowing two runs on six hits over seven innings. He also tied a season-high with eight strikeouts.

In his second start of the season, Tony Campana recorded three hits and stole a base.

Wil Nieves also recorded a season-high four hits in the winning effort.

The D-backs offense struggled on the road trip, but Martin Prado did not. In all eight of his starts, Prado had at least one hit.

The Bad:

Bell and Roe’s blown saves were the D-backs’ second and third of the series and 17th and 18th overall in 2013. The D-backs now have the most in all of baseball, one ahead of the Chicago Cubs.

Aside from their bullpen woes, the D-backs’ baserunning was an issue Thursday afternoon. Campana got caught napping between first and second on a blooper by Prado in the fourth inning and was thrown out on a force play.

In the 13th inning, after going ahead 3-2, the D-backs were potentially denied an extra run on two separate occasions. First, when Gerardo Parra was called out for batter interference on an errant throw to first base, and second when Chavez was thrown out at the plate to end the frame.

Even with a modest two-game win streak in New York, the D-backs finished their season-high 10-game road trip with a 3-7 record.


• The D-backs have now played seven extra-inning games on getaway day. They are 7-0 in those games.

• Arizona recorded its 19th one-run win of the season, and 20th in its last at-bat.

• Of their three wins on the 10-game road swing, two came in extra innings.

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Nieuwenhuis’ solo shot in the 14th inning matched the latest game-tying home run in Mets history.

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a team hit two game-tying home runs in extra innings before Thursday’s game was the 1998 St. Louis Cardinals.

What’s Next:

The D-backs return home to Chase Field Friday as they take on the Colorado Rockies at 6:40 p.m. Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-1, 5.40 ERA) will make his fourth straight of the season for the D-backs. He’ll be opposed by left-hander Jorge de la Rosa (8-4, 3.09 ERA).

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