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10/13/07 4:28 AM ET

Spin Forward: Early runs could cool Rox

D-backs need to create more scoring opportunities

PHOENIX -- Two things the Arizona Diamondbacks clearly need in order to claw their way back into this National League Championship Series:

A) Get a clutch hit.

B) Instead of ignoring, perhaps start acknowledging and resolving to put out the Colorado Rockies' fire.

Not necessarily in that order.

"Destiny" is a trite word in sporting championship pursuits, but rarely have all the goddesses ganged up for one team as they appear to have for the Rockies. When they can't earn runs, they're given to them. Closer loses his perfection? Let's extract him off the hook.

D-backs lashing line drives all over the field? Where there's a glove, there's a way to frustrate them.

Which brings us back to point A, and Arizona's need to at least not end clutch at-bats with shots in the vicinity of Colorado's fielders, who in the postseason glare are proving that their defensive reputation is well-deserved.

"We've swung the bats pretty well. You can't ask for more than what we've done," said Jeff Salazar, who in his platoon with Justin Upton occupied right field Friday night against righty Ubaldo Jimenez. "You can say that the key hit has been missing, but they keep making great defensive plays on us."

The greatest in Game 2 victimized Tony Clark, who already had two hits when, with two outs and Eric Byrnes on base in the seventh, he ripped a liner snared in a full-boat dive by center fielder Willy Taveras.

"I thought it would fall," Clark said. "But as much as I was begging for it to fall down, Willy covered enough real estate to make a tremendous catch."

That theft contributed to Arizona's 3-for-19 with men on base.

That is a good way to outhit Colorado in each of the first two games (18 to 15 overall) and still end up trailing two games to none.

NLCS Game 2 actually unfolded as the perfect synopsis of Arizona's puzzling season, and as the ideal setup for one of those defiant D-backs moments.

Eight innings of offensive silence from a lineup that seems to be swinging uphill, but is actually just waiting till just before the anecdotal stroke of midnight. That's when the D-backs would prowl and snatch one of those daring wins.

It's how the NL's poorest-hitting team defied logic to the league's best record. But, sometimes, you stop defying logic and simply obey it.

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Thus the D-backs' patented ninth-inning snatch stopped at the tying run, and two innings later, they were coming to grips with a worrisome two-game deficit in this series.

"It's been a tough series," Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds acknowledged. "We've hit balls on the nose, but the breaks haven't gone our way. Hope our luck changes in Colorado."

With their 38 comeback wins, many of them dramatic walk-off productions, the D-backs have excelled at laying in the weeds. But going forward, they will not have that home-weeds advantage for the next three games, in Denver's Coors Field. They'll need that opportunistic offense that has been their badge of honor to press the Rockies.

Obviously, when the opportunities aren't there, one must create them. Arizona manager Bob Melvin could be warming to the idea of manufacturing some early runs because, given the two outstanding bullpens, these games come down to six-inning affairs. Melvin and Clint Hurdle have to shorten the game, because a lead entering the seventh could be decisive.

The D-backs' leadoff man reached base in four of the first six innings, without an attempt to bunt him up. True, one of the instances was the third-inning leadoff double by pitcher Doug Davis, promptly delivered home on Chris Young's single. But the other openings quickly shut.

"Leaving men on base isn't one of those things you like to do," said shortstop Stephen Drew. "You'd like to move 'em over and get 'em in. It was one of those nights -- we didn't do our job with men in scoring position."

That is the only job at which the NL West champions have fallen down. The starting pitching has been serviceable, and the bullpen has lived up to its billing, considering relievers have had to put in overtime in the first two games.

During the regular season, the D-backs were 55-11 when allowing three runs or fewer. In other words, Friday night's game was the type they could ill afford to lose.

But what's that expression? This series is closer than the 2-0 score would indicate?

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.