Two struggling teams came out of the All-Star break matched up against each other, and the Arizona Diamondbacks struck first in a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Phoenix's Chase Field.
Trevor Cahill returned to the mound Friday for his first start with the Diamondbacks in more than three months. The 26-year-old started off strongly through three innings, but Chicago ran amok on him in the fourth frame, posting three hits (two for extra bases), one walk and three runs. The former Oakland Athletic's hurler settled down in the fifth inning but left the game with Arizona down by three runs.
Former Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson put forth a strong showing through four innings for the Cubs, but Arizona came alive in the fifth and sixth innings, scoring two and three runs, respectively. Jackson was pulled with just one out in the sixth, and Cubs relievers James Russell and Brian Schlitter gave up the tying and go-ahead runs to the D-backs while only recording a combined one out.
The Diamondbacks' five runs scored over two innings proved to be enough, as they held on for a 5-4 victory.
Here's a look at the D-backs' rally by the numbers:
Eury De La Rosa was the first Diamondback out of the bullpen after Cahill, and he gave up one solo home run in one inning pitched. He was, however, the beneficiary of the D-backs' big sixth inning on offense, and the 24-year-old Dominican earned his first Major League win -- not bad for a reliever who has only pitched five innings all season.
Cahill (1-6) had his second-longest start of the season, and his three earned runs allowed were also his second-fewest in a start this year. The recently recalled right-hander struck out three and walked two in 5.0 innings of work Friday.
Coming into the contest, the Diamondbacks had lost the last six individual games immediately after the All-Star break dating back to 2008. Fortunately, they broke the drought Friday, although they are still just 6-11 all time in "second half openers."
Left fielder Mark Trumbo was pulled in favor of Ender Inciarte (moving starting center fielder David Peralta to left) after seven innings. At the plate, Trumbo went 1-for-4 with a run scored, and his batting average is now .202.
All eight positional starters for the Diamondbacks recorded at least one hit, with Peralta, Martin Prado and Didi Gregorius all getting two. Even Nick Evans recorded an RBI single while pinch-hitting for Cahill in the bottom of the fifth. Arizona recorded 12 hits in total over eight innings at the plate.
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt hit an opposite-field solo shot for his 17th home run of the season. He's almost halfway to his total of 36 from a year ago. The two-time All-Star also was walked Friday for the 56th time in 2014, which is the third-highest total in the National League.
With a one-run cushion, Addison Reed came in the ninth inning a closed down the Cubs for his 22nd save of the year. He is slightly behind the pace he set last year with the Chicago White Sox, when he reached 40 saves and got his 22nd by July 2. In his one inning of work, Reed walked one Cubs batter and struck out Welington Castillo to end the game.
The two clubs were vying for their 41st win of the season, and Arizona got there first. Chicago is now 40-55, boasting the second-lowest winning percentage (.421) in the National League behind Colorado (40-56, .417). The D-backs sit just above Chicago at .423.
Prado had gone 932 Major League games without being ejected, but that streak ended after he was thrown out by umpire Cory Blaser in the eighth inning. D-backs manager Kirk Gibson came out of the dugout and did some arguing of his own, also earning himself an ejection -- not his first, though.
First career ejection for Prado. Blaser hassled David Peralta after a strikeout in the seventh. Wonder if that had anything to do with it.— Jack Magruder (@JackMagruder) July 19, 2014
#Dbacks Prado's ejection was his first in 933 games. "I was trying to make it a thousand, but I came up short," he said, chuckling.— Jack Magruder (@JackMagruder) July 19, 2014
Chase Field was more than 67 percent full for the Cubs-Diamondbacks series opener, meaning 32,619 fans were in attendance, which is a good sign considering the team's first half average was 25,013.