ATLANTA (AP) - Kirk Gibson said his slumping Arizona team was ``going to go down swinging' against the Braves.
Swinging and missing, as it turned out.
Rookie closer Craig Kimbrel struck out Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt and Sean Burroughs with runners on first and third in the ninth and the Diamondbacks' scoring woes continued in their 1-0 loss to Tim Hudson and Atlanta on Sunday.
Hudson (13-7) combined with Jonny Venters and Kimbrel on the five-hit shutout.
Arizona rookie Josh Collmenter almost matched Hudson, giving up only a third-inning homer to Alex Gonzalez. But Collmenter had no offensive support as the Diamondbacks matched their longest skid of the season with their fifth straight loss, including three straight to the Braves.
``Even down to the ninth we put them on the ropes a little bit,' Collmenter said. ``If a hit falls through or something happens, we tie the game up.'
The Diamondbacks have scored only nine runs in their last six games, including three runs in the three losses to Atlanta.
``We tried to make as much happen as we could,' Gibson said.
``We each got five hits. They got a home run. They got seven home runs in three games. We hit none. That's uncharacteristic of us.'
Kimbrel escaped trouble in the ninth to earn his 39th save.
Kimbrel walked Chris Young with one out in the ninth. Young advanced to third on Miguel Montero's single up the middle. Kimbrel hit 100 mph on the Turner Field radar gun before striking out Goldschmidt on a 99 mph fastball. He struck out Burroughs with a slider to end the game.
``I felt confident the whole time,' Kimbrel said.
Arizona's Kelly Johnson led off the sixth with a triple to right. One out later, Chris Young hit a popup that first baseman Freddie Freeman chased into foul territory and caught while running with his back to the plate. Johnson took off from third base as Freeman turned and threw to the plate.
Catcher Brian McCann moved to his right to catch Freeman's throw and then made a lunging tag before Johnson slid over the plate.
``It seemed like there was a good opportunity to put some pressure,' Johnson said.
``You've just got to go.'
Gibson said Johnson had to try to score when the Diamondbacks had so few chances.
``We forced them to make a play,' Gibson said. ``I liked what Kelly did. ... We were going to go down swinging.'
Arizona began the day 2.5 games ahead of San Francisco in the NL West.
``When you run into good teams that are on their game, it's a tough spot,' Johnson said, referring to Arizona losing two of three at Philadelphia before being swept by Atlanta. ``But we're due. I think that things are going to fall.
``When it's our time and we're playing like they're playing, we'll clean up.'
Collmenter (7-8) gave up only four hits and one run in seven innings but saw his streak of road starts without a win extended to nine. His focus after the loss was on the team's losing streak and Monday's start of a four-game series at Washington.
``It's frustrating for people, obviously,' Collmenter said. ``But I don't see any signs of defeat or quit or anything like that.
``We'll go in to Washington. Wipe the slate clean.'
The Braves strengthened their lead in the NL wild-card race by winning six of seven from the NL West's top two teams - San Francisco and Arizona - to complete a 7-3 homestand.
The Braves have won four straight and six of seven and began the day 8 games ahead of the Giants in the NL wild-card race.
Collmenter loaded the bases with one out in the sixth but pitched out of the jam with fly balls from Dan Uggla and Freeman.
The Braves couldn't extend the lead in the eighth when Michael Bourn hit a one-out double to right and advanced to third on Justin Upton's fielding error.
Bourn took off from third on an attempted squeeze play, but Martin Prado missed the bunt attempt and Bourn was caught in a rundown.
Kimbrel leads the majors in saves and is one behind the rookie record of 40 by Neftali Feliz of Texas in 2010.
The Diamondbacks also lost five straight from May 8-13. Both streaks came on road trips.
NOTES: The Braves wore new ``Ernie' patches on their sleeves to honor former pitcher and longtime broadcaster Ernie Johnson Sr., who died on Aug. 12 at the age of 87. ... Braves RHP Peter Moylan will begin an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday. He had surgery on May 17 to repair a bulging disk in his lower back. ... RHP Tommy Hanson (shoulder) plans to throw in the bullpen on Monday in Chicago and could begin a rehab stint with Greenville on Saturday. ... RHP Jair Jurrjens will face the Cubs' Ryan Dempster as the Braves open a four-game series in Chicago on Monday night. The Cubs won two of three in Atlanta on Aug. 12-14. ... Arizona's 10-game road trip through the NL East continues Monday when LHP Joe Saunders faces Washington's Ross Detwiler in the opener of a four-game series.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved