Clement put to test

SportsArizona DiamondbacksChicago CubsDamian MillerSammy SosaJay BellMark Grace

Mark Grace went hitless in four at-bats Sunday for Arizona, yet he was partly responsible for shortening Cubs starter Matt Clement's workday.

Clement was removed with one out in the sixth inning because his pitch count was 121. In Clement's 28-pitch fifth inning, Grace battled him through a 13-pitch at-bat, including eight foul balls, before striking out.

Clement also needed 28 pitches to work through the first inning. He required eight pitches, including four foul balls, to retire Damian Miller.

"Battling Miller and Gracie cost me way too many pitches," Clement said.

A Series explanation: Grace explained why the World Series champion Diamondbacks have been on a hot streak since the All-Star break.

Even though Arizona's eight-game winning streak was snapped Sunday when the Cubs won 3-2, the Diamondbacks have won 22 of 27 since the break.

"We field the ball and run the bases intelligently," Grace said. "Of course, we have pitching. And we don't give away games, like the Cubs did to us [Saturday]."

Arizona did help the Cubs score the tying run in the eighth inning Sunday. Bill Mueller walked, took second on a wild pitch and took third on a passed ball before he scored on Fred McGriff's sacrifice fly.

Grace, a part-time first baseman behind Erubiel Durazo, said depth is the reason the Diamondbacks have survived losing 836 games by 17 players who spent time on the disabled list.

"By depth, I mean the way our pinch-hitters play when they're put into the lineup," Grace said. "Jay Bell is an example. He's playing third in place of Matt Williams, and Jay has almost 2,000 big-league hits."

Grace also saluted the Diamondbacks for daring to ignore what he called the "tradition" of pregame infield practice.

"You know how many times we've had infield practice this year? Doughnut. Zero," he said. "We're a veteran team. Our infielders and outfielders catch and throw in batting practice. I'm all for baseball tradition. But not when it doesn't help us."

Number crunching: Sammy Sosa's hitting streak ended at 12 when he left the game in the sixth with a headache. Alex Gonzalez extended his streak to 13.

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