The fight, Damion Easley said early Thursday about the Diamondbacks’ current plight, is against the demons of "Here we go again." The demons of "Will I get another hit?" Of "Will I get another batter out?"
And despite the their best efforts over eight innings, the D-Backs’ fight will last at least one more day.
The D-Backs suffered what manager Bob Melvin called the most difficult defeat of their 3-20 streak, failing to hold a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning in a 3-2 loss to Seattle before 20,654 at Chase Field, a game that proved even closer Jorge Julio is not invulnerable.
Julio had converted his previous five save attempts since assuming the closer’s role June 1, but Seattle cleanup hitter Raul Ibanez hit the fifth pitch he saw for a game-tying home run off the batter’s eye in center field to open the ninth.
Kenji Johjima, who had five hits and seven RBIs in the series, tripled into the right-field corner with one out and, after Julio struck out Jeremy Reed, Yuniesky Betancourt singled to center for the game winner.
“I feel bad for the team. I need to help this team,’’ said Julio, who has given up just four earned runs in 16 innings since coming to the D-Backs.
“I saw it hit over the yellow line. It was clear. That’s why I wasn’t throwing a temper tantrum,’’ said center fielder Eric Byrnes.
Of Ibanez’s homer, Byrnes said Julio “made the right pitch. It was 3-1, he didn’t want to walk him. He just happened to run into it. It was a mid-90s fastball. “(Julio) did what he had to do. That’s exactly what we wanted him to do. We’re just in a run of bad luck.’’
The D-Backs (37-42) fell five games below .500 for the first time this season as they embark on a nine-game road trip that concludes at the All-Star break.
“What are you going to do? We’ve seen about everything during this. This was our toughest loss,’’ manager Bob Melvin said.
The D-Backs are 7-20 in June, assured of their worst June in history, although Melvin’s job is not in jeopardy, according to the man who has the final say.
“He is very much a part of the solution,’’ said general manager Josh Byrnes, whose D-Backs hold options on Melvin for 2007 and 2008 seasons. “He’s done a very good job through a difficult stretch, and I don’t think it reflects poorly on him.’’
Melvin was ejected for the third time in eight games for arguing Ibanez’s homer, which appeared to hit over the yellow home run line in center field but originally was ruled in play by second base umpire Ron Kulpa.
Ibanez ended up at third on the play, after which Mariners manager Mike Hargrove asked for a review. The umpires huddled and then signaled a home run, which brought Melvin out of the dugout.
“My argument was, the guy who was closest to the play made the call got overruled. It seems like it happens every time,’’ said Melvin, who saw a similar play called against the D-Backs in Philadelphia last season.
Enrique Gonzalez gave up one run and three hits in seven innings, saying he tweaked his mechanics in a bullpen session between starts to be able to pitch down in the strike zone, and he scored both D-Backs’ runs after singling in the third and reaching on an error in the fifth.
“Offensively, we have to do better than that, when the pitcher scores both runs and has good at-bats,’’ Melvin said.
“We have to find a way to get better at-bats throughout the order.