Arizona may have sealed its fate with a 3-7 start to September, but the D-backs' National League West hopes were officially dashed on Thursday afternoon with a 7-6 loss to Los Angeles that allowed the Dodgers to celebrate their first division crown since 2009 on the Chase Field premises.
With their postseason elimination number at one, the D-backs must refocus for their final road trip of the season, a seven-game intradivisional stretch that begins on Friday night against the Rockies.
The D-backs will send right-hander Randall Delgado, who only has two starts left in what has been a successful first season in Arizona for the 23-year-old former top prospect. Delgado has turned in quality starts in 11 of his 17 opportunities this season, and were it not for his propensity to give up home runs in bunches, his overall numbers would look much better than the modest improvement they have shown over his 2012 campaign with the Braves.
Delgado's 4.37 ERA over his past four starts was marred by a tough outing in Los Angeles on Sept. 9, when he allowed four home runs and five runs, and he was chased after only 2 2/3 innings. He bounced back with six solid innings last Sunday in the D-backs' 8-2 win over the Rockies, but he also surrendered his 21st home run. Delgado has allowed 1.78 home runs per nine innings, the third-worst rate in the Majors among pitchers with at least 100 innings.
"He's a young kid, he's still figuring it out and he's learning," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of Delgado on Thursday. "He just needs better pitch location. I think he's working to get more movement on his pitches, too."
Colorado starter Jhoulys Chacin will be seeking revenge in his second start against the D-backs this week after Arizona plated six runs (four earned) in four innings to force the right-hander's early exit last Sunday. After posting a 1.91 ERA in six August starts, Chacin is still searching for his first win of September.
The Rockies endured a 15-inning marathon against the Cardinals on Thursday afternoon, capped by a walk-off triple off the bat of Corey Dickerson to secure a dramatic 7-6 victory.
D-backs: Goldschmidt extends RBI lead
• First baseman Paul Goldschmidt notched his NL-leading 119th RBI with a ground-rule double in the third inning on Thursday, extending his sizable lead over the rest of the league. In the win over the Rockies last Sunday, Goldschmidt pounced on Chacin and the rest of the Colorado staff for a four-hit, five-RBI afternoon, coming within a triple of the cycle.
• Wade Miley, who had turned in quality starts in his first two outings against the Dodgers this season -- both Arizona victories -- struggled with his command on Thursday. Miley issued four walks and allowed five hits in five innings, but the lefty atoned in part for his shaky performance on the mound with a two-run double in the third inning, his third double.
Rockies: Bettis still adjusting to bullpen
• Chad Bettis made his fourth appearance out of the bullpen on Thursday and was tagged with his second earned run as a reliever, allowing the Cardinals to take the lead on an RBI double by David Freese in the eighth inning. After stumbling to a 5.02 ERA and 0-3 record in eight starts to begin his Major League career, Bettis was moved to the bullpen and responded with added velocity, pushing his fastball up to 96-97 mph more consistently. Bettis has appreciated his time in both roles since he was first called up to the big leagues at the beginning of August.
"As a starter, I feel I have the ability to dial it up whenever I need to, but really it's about being more efficient -- getting movement, getting ground balls, quick innings," Bettis said on Thursday. "Closing, I feel it's a little different. But it still comes back to trying to get strike one, getting ahead of the hitter."
• NL batting leader Michael Cuddyer did not start Thursday after he rolled over on his left wrist and suffered a bruised right forearm making a diving catch in Wednesday night's 4-3 loss to St. Louis. Cuddyer entered Thursday with a .331 average, less than 10 points clear of Atlanta's Chris Johnson, Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, Washington's Jayson Werth and St. Louis' Matt Carpenter. He hopes to return to the lineup for Friday's series opener against Arizona.
• Cincinnati's next victory will officially eliminate Arizona from postseason contention.
• The D-backs lead the season series against the Rockies, 10-6.
• Colorado's 21 hits on Thursday are the team's highest total this season, surpassing a 20-hit effort in a 12-4 win over the Reds on June 5.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.