Slumping D-backs drop fifth straight as Velez gives Giants walk-off win

SAN FRANCISCO -- While the Arizona Diamondbacks still believe they have plenty of time and aren't ready to panic about their playoff push, they know things must get better in a hurry.

Eugenio Velez singled home the winning run with one out in the ninth and the San Francisco Giants dealt the stumbling D-backs their fifth straight defeat with a 5-4 victory Tuesday night.

"The feeling is if we want to be playing here in the next four weeks, it's got to change," catcher Chris Snyder said.

Arizona matched its longest losing streak of the season, also done from May 26-30. The D-backs also has a nine-game road skid, the club's longest since also dropping nine consecutive contests away from Phoenix from Aug. 29-Sept. 18, 2004.

Arizona fell 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, who beat San Diego 6-2. The Dodgers swept the D-backs over the weekend to take over the top spot in the NL West.

"It was a pretty frustrating loss," manager Bob Melvin said. "I thought several times in this game we had some momentum, we had a good chance to win that game. Obviously it's been a frustrating trip for us up to this point. You have no choice but to go out there or try to take the last game of the series tomorrow and get back on a roll at home."

Snyder hit a tying two-run homer off All-Star closer Brian Wilson in the ninth to make it 4-4, but Wilson (3-2) still earned the victory.

Jon Rauch allowed a leadoff single to Pablo Sandoval to start the ninth and then Nate Schierholtz walked to chase Rauch (4-7), who is 0-5 since joining Arizona. Juan Cruz relieved and got Omar Vizquel to fly out before Velez singled to right. A sliding Sandoval narrowly beat the throw home by right fielder Jeff Salazar for the winning run.

Sandoval, a catcher, touched the plate with his right hand rather than his left knowing it would be the only way he'd be safe on the play.

"I keep making mistakes left and right and it keeps putting this team farther and farther out of playoff contention," Rauch said. "I really just don't know what to do right now."

Giants' pinch-hitter Fred Lewis chopped a single to right in the eighth for the lead only to see Arizona tie it.

Vizquel doubled to start the eighth and went to third on a sacrifice by pinch-hitter Dave Roberts. After Randy Winn was intentionally walked, Lewis came up big against Tony Pena. Rich Aurilia followed with an RBI single, his third base hit of the game.

"I think you look at the timely hitting," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We had so many guys come through with the huge hits tonight. We had a lot of good things happen offensively."

Giants starter Barry Zito struck out nine in six solid innings but didn't get a decision, then Keiichi Yabu followed with two hitless innings with two strikeouts. He seemed poised for the win until Wilson blew only his fourth save all season.

Pinch-hitter Bengie Molina, getting a night off from his normal catching duties, singled in the tying run in the sixth then was replaced by 2008 draft pick Conor Gillaspie as a pinch runner for his major league debut.

Zito had an RBI single in the second to score Schierholtz for the Giants' first run. Schierholtz, a September callup after earning a bronze medal with the U.S. baseball team in the Beijing Olympics last month, hit his fourth career triple and first this year.

Zito, who is 9-16 in the second year of his $126 million, seven-year contract, is pleased with his progress at the plate but more importantly that he's back on track on the mound.

"I've learned a lot of stuff this year," he said. "Sometimes it takes a lot of pain and struggle to gain a certain amount of strength."

Arizona cleanup hitter Adam Dunn went 0-for-4 and struck out two more times after getting three Ks in Monday's 6-2 loss.

D-backs starter Doug Davis, who had won two of his last three decisions, singled in a run in the second to help his cause but Arizona's bats again couldn't come through when it counted.

Game notes
Wilson blew his first save since Aug. 20. ... Injured Giants RHP reliever Merkin Valdez tested his strained throwing elbow in a simulated game, the first time he's thrown to live hitters. ... One of the Giants' last ways to commemorate the club's 50th anniversary season in San Francisco will be the unveiling of a "Wall of Fame" on Sept. 23 -- a tribute to the organization's top players who are retired and have spent a minimum of nine seasons with the Giants or five seasons with at least one All-Star selection. ... San Francisco rookie INF Emmanuel Burriss had an MRI exam on his strained left side muscle and isn't likely to play again this season. Typical recovery time is at least three weeks. He is still expected to participate in the Arizona Fall League starting next month with the Scottsdale team. ... D-backs RHP Max Scherzer will start Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds in place of Yusmeiro Petit. Scherzer made a spot start in place of the injured Randy Johnson last Sunday against the Dodgers and struck out 11 in five-plus innings, prompting the move by manager Bob Melvin. "Looking at his performance we just think it's the right thing to do," Melvin said.