The only Diamondback to start every game, lone ranger Orlando Hudson, also has developed into a pied piper of sorts for a streaking group of young D-Backs.
Hudson provided the finishing touch on another step in Confidence 101 with a game-breaking double as the D-Backs finished a three-game sweep of San Francisco, 5-4, before 28,818 at Chase Field on Sunday.
Hudson’s two-run double with the bases loaded in the seventh inning broke a tie at 3 as the D-Backs won their fifth straight game, their third straight by one run, while avenging a three-game sweep in San Francisco last weekend.
Hudson has provided the finishing touch on a few of them.
“We’ve had some late comebacks against some good pitchers, so we want to continue that,” Hudson said of the streak that began with Stephen Drew’s walk-off home run against San Diego’s Trevor Hoffman on Wednesday.
“It’s a group of great kids here who know what they are doing. Sometimes we will ride their shoulders. We are just trying to do what we can do and handle our business.”
Hudson has handled his, leading NL second basemen in batting average (.340) and hits (34) while ranking second in RBIs (20).
He drove in the deciding runs with an eighth-inning home run against Cincinnati on April 9 and an eighth-inning sacrifice fly against Colorado on April 14 and also had a two-run single for the final runs in an 11-inning victory at San Diego on April 18.
First-year players Miguel Montero, Chris Young and Stephen Drew singled with one out in the seventh inning to set up Hudson, who also singled in Young in a two-run third.
“It’s always good for the young guys” to win close games,” Hudson said. “They have never really failed. They always succeeded at the lower levels. They did their thing. Now they are really showing they can shine.”
The D-Backs (15-11) have won eight of 12 one-run games this season and two of their three in extra innings.
“We’re getting pretty calloused to those games, now where we expect to be in them,” manager Bob Melvin said.
Arizona’s Randy Johnson, in his second start, gave up seven hits and a walk in six innings, losing a 3-2 lead when Ray Durham led off the sixth inning with a home run.
“Everybody else is light years ahead of me,” said Johnson, who left after throwing 98 pitches in six innings. “I’m 43 and coming off back surgery.”
Johnson threw what must be a single-game record 30 split-finger fastballs, catcher Robby Hammock estimated, and that’s a pitch Johnson wants to keep in the 80-81 mph range to create separation from his fastball, which topped out at 94.
“Yes, I gave up some hits with it, but I got a lot of easy outs, too,” said Johnson, who got the last of his five strikeouts on a splitter in the sixth.
With closer Jose Valverde unavailable after pitching four of the previous five days, Brandon Lyon pitched the ninth for his first save since Sept. 9, 2005, getting out of a basesloaded, two-out situation with two pop-ups.
With one out, Lyon semi-intentionally walked pinch-hitter Barry Bonds on four fastballs off the plate outside, Bonds’ sixth walk of the series.
Singles by Ryan Klesko and Randy Winn loaded the bases before Omar Vizquel and Rich Aurilia popped out.
“Doesn’t everyone expect to win the close games?” Lyon said.
“It’s huge for our confidence for the rest of the season. I think it’s a tribute to the way these (young) guys played last year. They learned to win games.”