PHOENIX (AP) -- With a record-tying offensive outburst, the
Arizona Diamondbacks are NL West champions again.
The team that built its reputation with pitching clinched its
second straight division title, and third in four years, with
parade of five home runs in a 17-8 victory over the Colorado
Rockies on Saturday.
Matt Williams and Steve Finley each homered twice as the World
Series champions, who are aiming for a repeat despite the loss of
Luis Gonzalez, Craig Counsell and Brian Anderson to season-ending
"This is the first of four parties,'' Mark Grace said. "We're
winners of the best division in the National League.''
The 17 runs tied a club record that had been reached three
previous times, the last at St. Louis on April 17, 2001.
"We had that six-game losing streak and I told everybody to be
patient, that this game runs in cycles, these guys are going to
start swinging the bats better,'' manager Bob Brenly said. "It was
just an explosion today.''
The Diamondbacks celebrated the title with handshakes and hugs
on the field. Champagne flowed in the clubhouse, where the mood was
happy, but subdued.
"They know that the toughest road is about to start -- 162 games
is a long way to go,'' Brenly said. "To get to this position
obviously is what we were shooting for, but we've got a bigger goal
Arizona will face NL Central champion St. Louis in the first
round of the playoffs starting Tuesday. It has not yet been decided
where the series will begin.
"You can have a good night and celebrate tonight,''
champagne-drenched Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said, "but
tomorrow we have an important baseball game. We expected a subdued
kind of event, because we've been there and we've done it, and our
expectations are much higher than what was accomplished here
Arizona leads St. Louis by one game for home-field advantage
with one game to play. The Cardinals hold the tiebreaker in case
the teams end up even. The Diamondbacks will send rookie John
Patterson to the mound on Sunday.
"Now we need to win tomorrow and win home-field advantage,''
Randy Johnson said. "You'd rather start at home in a five-game
series. In a seven-game series, I don't think it really matters.''
Williams matched his career-high with four hits and drove in
three runs in his first multiple-homer game since Aug. 16, 1999.
Rod Barajas was 4-for-5 with a pair of two-run doubles -- his
first big league four-RBI game. Finley hit his 24th and 25th homers
and drove in five runs.
Felix Jose also homered as Arizona tied its franchise record
with its five home runs in a game.
Jay Bell, the first free agent to sign with Arizona back in
1998, had a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth. Bell, who says he
probably will retire after this season, got a standing ovation when
he was replaced for a pinch-runner.
"To me, that was the coolest part of the whole afternoon,''
said Williams, Bell's teammate all five years in Arizona.
Shortstop Jason Romano's two throwing errors, one on a routine
double-play grounder, helped the Diamondbacks score four runs for a
5-2 lead in the fourth inning.
Romano also struck out three times and botched another double
play, but did rob Williams of a fifth hit with a diving stop in the
After losing the last six on a nine-game road trip, Arizona won
its third in a row over Colorado, which dropped to 1-8 at Bank One
Ballpark this season.
"They did a fine job. They're to be commended,'' Colorado
manager Clint Hurdle said of the Diamondbacks, "but there is still
a lot riding on tomorrow's game.''
Rick Helling (10-12) allowed three runs on nine hits in six
innings, struck out six and walked none.
"This was the reason that I came here, the opportunity to play
in the playoffs, on a quality team, in a quality organization,''
Helling said. "This is what it's all about. The real season starts
now. I think everybody in this clubhouse believed from day one of
spring training that October was when our real season starts.''
Kapler's homer, after Juan Pierre's single, gave Colorado a 2-1
lead in the third.
Sean Lowe (5-3) took the loss.
Struggling Arizona reliever Mike Myers threw 25 pitches to
left-handed batters before the game, and pitching coach Chuck
Kniffen thought he spotted a flaw in the left-hander's mechanics.
Myers pitched a perfect seventh ... Helling allowed 31 home runs
this season, one shy of the NL lead. ... Arizona hadn't scored this
many runs since beating Los Angeles 14-3 on May 25. ... Finley has
20 career multiple-homer games, two this season. ... Williams
reached 1,200 career RBI.