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Diamondbacks limp toward finish with loss to Nats

Sunday - 9/29/2013, 12:58am  ET

Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond makes a backhand catch of a ground ball for an out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning of a baseball game on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX (AP) -- For the first time this season, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a losing record.

Arizona's losing streak reached four on Saturday night in a 2-0 loss to former Diamondback Dan Haren and the Washington Nationals.

The defeat dropped Arizona's record to 80-81. The Diamondbacks need to win Sunday's season finale to match last year's .500 record.

The team is limping to the end of a disappointing season that began with such promise. Manager Kirk Gibson offered a postgame synopsis of what had transpired.

"If you look at our season, the starters didn't turn out like they wanted to," he said. "In the middle of the season we got into a lot of blown saves, a lot of extra-inning games.

"In the second half of the season we haven't scored runs, we haven't been as offensive as we were earlier. Our situational hitting hasn't been as good."

So, he said, "all the elements have never come together."

Brandon McCarthy (5-11) had shown steady improvement since coming off the disabled list in early August.

"It is good at least to get back feeing like myself again," he said. "In the first half I kind of felt like I was a shell of myself, even coming back until I got mechanically right. At least at the end I felt it was normal again."

Haren (10-14), who signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Nationals and struggled mightily for much of the season, allowed four hits in seven innings.

He struck out five and walked one, then acknowledged it almost certainly was his final outing in his short stay in Washington.

The 33-year-old right-hander, a free agent at the end of the season, was 6-2 in his last 12 starts.

When the game was over, manager Davey Johnson gathered the team together and thanked them.

Johnson, 70, is retiring after three decades as a player, then manager. There was applause and hugs, and the players gave Johnson a bottle of wine.

Johnson had come up with a motivator for this final series after Washington was eliminated from playoff contention Monday in St. Louis.

He wanted to end his career with at least 300 more wins than losses. Saturday night's victory made sure that would happen.

"It's wonderful," Johnson said. "The effort was outstanding. I can't even put words on it. Tomorrow I'm going to play the young guys. Some of the other guys, their seasons are finished. They battled hard. I really thanked them a lot for the effort and I know they're in a good place going forward."

McCarthy gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings.

"We just haven't hit,' Gibson said.

"We scored 11 runs in six games. He (Haren) pitched a good game and we give him credit, but you have to have better opportunities and make the most of your opportunities.

"We had it at the end, but we couldn't get it down. You throw seven innings and give up two runs you expect to win those games."

Arizona threatened against Rafael Soriano in the ninth. Paul Goldschmidt flied out to deep center, then Martin Prado singled and Miguel Montero walked.

A wild pitch advanced the runners to third and second, but Soriano struck out Matt Davidson and retired Chris Owings on a fly ball for his 43rd save.

Drew Storen threw a scoreless eighth as the third link of the shutout.

Denard Span and Chad Tracy scored the game's only runs.

Span tripled to the right-field corner leading off the sixth and scored when Ryan Zimmerman grounded out.

In the seventh, Tracy hit a solo shot that landed on the far side of the swimming pool in right field and bounced back into the water.

Meanwhile, Arizona didn't do much against Haren, with all four of its hits coming with two outs.

The game whizzed by in 2 hours, 25 minutes.

NOTES: After the game, Johnson said he had scratched RHP Gio Gonzalez from Sunday's start and would go with Tanner Roark (7-1, 1.74). LHP Wade Miley (10-10, 3.63) goes for Arizona. ... Goldschmidt extended his career-best hitting streak to 18 games. Goldschmidt fell into a tie for the NL lead in homers when Pedro Alvarez of Pittsburgh hit his 36th on Saturday.

___

Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx


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