05/18/2002 03:32 am ET
D-Backs' Durazo does in Phillies
A memorable night: three homers, nine RBIs
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- With a crowd of nearly 40,000 on it's feet chanting his name, Erubiel Durazo's teammates told him it was time for a curtain call.
"He's very low key so we told him, 'Get out there everybody is waiting for you,'" Luis Gonzalez said. "He did something special tonight."
Indeed he did, as Durazo homered three times and drove in nine runs in Arizona's 12-9 win over Philadelphia Friday night at Bank One Ballpark.
The offensive outburst came one day after Arizona manager Bob Brenly said the starting first base job belonged to Durazo, who appeared in a big league game Thursday for the first time since breaking a bone in his right hand during Spring Training.
Durazo was anxious to show his manager he deserved the show of faith on Thursday and he was 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. He doubled in his final at bat and parlayed that into a prodigious power display Friday.
"I think (Thursday) night we saw Ruby be a little overanxious, swinging too hard, trying to hit pitches that couldn't be hit," Brenly said. "Tonight he was much more relaxed, laid off some tough pitches and when he got something to hit, he didn't miss it."
Durazo homered in the first, sixth and seventh innings and doubled in three runs in the eighth. The homers went to left-center, right and right fields.
"Today I felt good at the plate and I hit the ball pretty good today," Durazo said. "I was just trying to hit the ball I wasn't trying to hit home runs."
It was the first time Durazo had hit three home runs at any level third time it's been done in Diamondbacks history. Steve Finley and Luis Gonzalez also achieved the feat and Durazo's trifecta marked the 204th time it had been done in National League history.
Only Lance Berkman had hit three homers in an NL game this season and the only other player in either league with more than two homers was Seattle's Mike Cameron, who hit four on May 2 against the Chicago White Sox.
The fans let Durazo know how they felt about being a part of history when they demanded a curtain call after the third home run.
"That was my second (curtain call) and the people are awesome here," he said. "I like everybody here."
Durazo has been a fan favorite since breaking onto the Major League scene back in 1999, batting .329 an hitting 11 homers while driving in 30 runs during the second half of the season for that year's NL West champions.
It wasn't always like that for Durazo though. Back in 1997 he was undrafted after playing at Pima (Ariz.) Community College and he spent two years playing in the Mexcian League before joining the Diamondbacks.
Injuries cut short his 2000 season and the Diamondbacks signed Mark Grace and gave him the starting job at first base last season. A disappointed Durazo became one of the NL's best pinch-hitters as he hit five of his 12 homers off the bench.
Durazo got off to a torrid start this spring, leading the big leagues in homers before suffering a broken hammate bone. The injury sidelined him until Thursday when he was activated by the club and told by Brenly that he was the starting first baseman, while Grace and his .235 batting average would have to take a seat at least for now.
"I don't want to remember that," Durazo said of the losing his job and the Spring Training injury. "It was hard. I just want to see the ball and hit it. I'm going to keep doing my job."
Durazo's power surge from the cleanup spot was a rarity for Arizona this season. Entering Friday's game, the club's No. 4 hitters had combined to hit .201 with six homers and 19 RBIs. In one night alone, Durazo had three homers and nine RBIs.
"We think Ruby is capable of putting up tremendous numbers," Brenly said. "Obviously the opposing team is going to try and keep him from doing that and that's the series of adjustments back and forth that baseball is all about."
With three home runs already under his belt, Durazo stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth and the crowd on its feet hoping to see home run No. 4.
"I was just hoping to get some insurance runs there, I didn't care how," said Brenly, whose club clung to a 9-7 lead at that point.
Facing right-hander Cliff Politte, Durazo worked the count to 3-2 before lashing a double to right, scoring all three runners and giving Arizona a 12-7 lead.
"He's a big kid," said Gonzalez, who scored four times as a result of Durazo's hits. "Left-handers, right-handers, he's been able to handle everybody out there. Him hitting three home runs doesn't surprise us, but nine RBIs… I think I got a quarter of my runs scored tonight. That's a good sign.
"He had a good week and a half in one night."
Not a good night for Junior
Second baseman Junior Spivey was hit on the hand with a pitch in the eighth inning. He stayed in the game, but was to undergo x-rays late Friday night.
Steve Gilbert is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.