Hill’s 2 HR lift Diamondbacks over Giants 5-4
April 8, 2012
PHOENIX (AP) – The Arizona Diamondbacks were the kings of the comeback in 2011, snatching away late victories on their way to the NL West crown.
This season, they’re taking a different tact: Score early and hang on.
Aaron Hill homered in each of the first two innings, Chris Young had a pair of run-scoring doubles and the quick-striking Diamondbacks beat the San Francisco Giants 5-4 on Saturday.
“It’s a good way to start, put runs on the board,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said.
Arizona rallied for victories 48 times last season to earn its first division title since 2007. The Diamondbacks have been fast starters in 2012, scoring seven runs the first two innings their first two games.
Hill drove in three of those on Saturday: A solo homer off Madison Bumgarner (0-1) in the first inning and a two-run shot in the second. Young also hit the first of his RBI doubles in the first, giving starter Daniel Hudson (1-0) just enough cushion to open with a victory after struggling early last season.
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Young added his second double off Daniel Otero in the fifth inning to put Arizona up 5-2 and J.J. Putz closed it out after Hudson tired, working a perfect ninth for his second straight save.
“It’s always nice whenever you go out and score a couple of runs (early),” Hill said. “Any starting pitcher would agree with that and it’s always nice when a starting pitcher goes six, seven innings, so it’s been a great first two days.”
The Giants have had a rough couple days thanks to slow-starting starters.
Ace Tim Lincecum struggled in the opener, giving up two runs in the first inning of a 5-4 loss. This time it was Bumgarner, who allowed four runs in the first two innings and didn’t make it past the fourth.
Pablo Sandoval and Brett Pill each hit two-run homers for the Giants, off to a 0-2 start for the second straight season.
“It was a similar game to yesterday. The guys are trying to get settled in and they taking advantage of mistakes,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We battled back and that is a good sign. We got down early and tried to come back, but their pen did a good job.”
With the pomp and pageantry of opening day over, the Diamondbacks were ready to get on with the rest of the season.
And, just like the day before, they got rolling right away.
Hill, second in the lineup after hitting eighth in the opener, got things started with a solo homer that curled around the foul pole left. After Young added a run-scoring double high off the wall later in the inning, Hill made it 4-0 in the second after working a long at-bat for a two-run homer just over the wall in left and his fourth career multihomer game.
“Johnny Mac (McDonald) said you need to hit Hill eighth once a week just to (make him angry),” Gibson said. “He had a great game today.”
Hudson pitched well after a rough start to the 2011 season, finishing 16-12 with a 3.49 ERA after opening 0-4. He was a steady presence in the rotation behind Kennedy, pitching into the sixth inning in eight of his final nine starts as the Diamondbacks surged toward the playoffs.
Hudson started off smoothly against the Giants, retiring the first eight batters he faced, until Sandoval hit a two-run homer to right in the fourth inning to cut Arizona’s lead in half, to 4-2. Tiring in the seventh inning, Hudson gave up another two-run homer, this one to Pill, who came in as a pinch hitter.
Hudson was done after that, leaving with a one-run lead after allowing four runs on five hits in 6 2-3 innings.
“I just tried to get through as quick as possible, as few pitches as possible,” said Hudson, who also had a pair of singles. “It felt OK. There was a couple of things I didn’t do very well – I made two mistakes and paid for them.”
Like Hudson, Bumgarner got the 2011 season off to a shaky start, losing his first six decisions and nine of 12. He, too, turned it around late, going 10-4 with a 2.62 ERA over his final 18 starts.
The big left-hander struggled early and didn’t last long against Arizona, allowing four runs on seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the fifth.
“If you make mistakes to guys, that’s what they are going to do,” said Bumgarner, who allowed two homers in 78 innings his first 13 starts in 2011. “If I just made pitches I probably wouldn’t have to worry about it.”
NOTES: Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher threw out the ceremonial first pitch. It was a strike – after bouncing about 15 feet short off the dirt. … RHP Josh Collmenter will make his first start of 2012 Sunday against the Giants after matching Arizona’s rookie record with 10 wins last season. … RHP Matt Cain will start for the Giants on Sunday after going 12-11 with a 2.88 ERA in 33 starts last season. … Arizona has won seven straight against San Francisco, its longest streak against the Giants.