Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 7/29/12
PHOENIX -- A win Sunday certainly would have given the Diamondbacks a nice feeling to take with them as they begin a 10-game road trip starting Monday, but even with a 5-1 loss and series split with the Mets, they reiterated that they feel good about where they are and how they're playing. Now 4 12 games behind the NL West co-division leaders, the Dodgers and Giants, the D-backs know they could be entering their most crucial stretch yet, beginning with a series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Monday. "We had a good stretch here -- 7-3, that's good," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "It'd be nice to duplicate that. And if we don't, it's not the end of the season, but we do make it harder for ourselves." The D-backs did fare well on their important homestand but ended it with somewhat of a thud Sunday. They couldn't figure out Mets ace R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball, scratching out just one unearned run on four hits off the starter and striking out eight times. "You have to tip your cap to Dickey," D-backs starter Joe Saunders said. "He baffled us all day." The caveat to the 7-3 stretch at home is that all of the wins came against two-last place teams and a Mets team that has now won just three times in its last 16 games. The coming road trip will be significantly more challenging. "We still haven't played out best ball on the road," second baseman Aaron Hill said. "We're right there." The trip starts with three games against the Dodgers, who on Sunday completed a three-game sweep of the Giants to grab a share of first place. Then it's on to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. "We're going to play against much better teams," Gibson said. "It's extremely challenging. At the same time, I enjoy the challenge and I'm looking forward to measuring up to it." In the end, wins are wins, no matter the competition, and the D-backs took advantage of a favorable stretch to bring themselves back within striking distance of the division leaders. After 102 games last season, the D-backs were 55-47 and four games behind the Giants. They used a 39-21 stretch run to win the division. This year, they are 51-51 but in nearly the same place in the standings, just with two teams to catch instead of one. The series with the Dodgers could give the D-backs a chance to get even closer, but they know it won't be easy, especially given the momentum that comes with a series sweep. "We always play very close games in Los Angeles," Gibson said. "The fact that we need to play solid baseball and play fundamental baseball is very important in that series." Added center fielder Chris Young: "If we're going to do what we plan on doing this season, it's going to be big road trip for sure, especially the first one, starting off in L.A. We're going to have to continue playing good baseball like we have been doing, and I think we'll be just fine." Possibly helping the D-backs' cause was the addition of third baseman Chris Johnson via a trade with the Astros on Sunday. Johson, batting .279 with eight homers, 21 doubles and 41 RBIs this season, will join the D-backs in Los Angeles. The D-backs could also make more moves before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline. "We believe he's going to help us, obviously, make us a stronger team," Gibson said. "We're trying to get better, we're trying to get stronger." Despite Sunday's loss, the confidence level remained high in the D-backs' clubhouse. Gibson and each player asked confirmed that the team was pleased with the homestand. If that confidence and the more consistent play the D-backs have found lately continues on the road, the D-backs may just be amid the breakout stretch they've been waiting on. Gibson couldn't say for sure if that is or will be the case, but this much is certain: The D-backs believe they are contenders. Young said it Friday, and general manager Kevin Towers referred to the club as a contender after Sunday's game. Young also said the D-backs don't believe they have played their best baseball yet. "No question about it," he said. If that play still in there, now would be an opportune time for it to emerge. "We're still in it right now," Young said. "All we're thinking is just go (to Los Angeles) and win the series right now. We're not going in saying we have to sweep them or having that type of mentality. It's just going in and playing good baseball to win the series."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rockies-Diamondbacks game included a broken-bat homer and the longest homer of 2017

Report: Texans wouldn’t take Jay Cutler’s calls

Albert Pujols mocks Rangers pitcher after beef

Top 10 takeaways from the 2017 NFL Draft

Mitchell Trubisky booed at Celtics-Bulls game, for some reason

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Larry Bird's sudden exit adds to uncertainty surrounding Paul George, Pacers

Nationals Adam Eaton out for season with torn ACL

WATCH: Isaiah Thomas talks trash about Bulls on court during Game 6

Jets WR Devin Smith to miss all of 2017 with torn ACL

WATCH: Seahawks use scuba diver to announce 2017 NFL Draft pick

Marshawn Lynch takes out full-page ad in newspaper to thank Seahawks fans

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

Box Score 4/28: NFL Draft gets younger every year

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Marshawn Lynch gives an already-spurned city hometown appeal

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker