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D-backs’ Robbie Ray starts slow, finishes on fire against Dodgers

Arizona Diamondbacks' Robbie Ray is congratulated after scoring on a single by David Peralta during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, April 17, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Had it not been for two inefficient innings to start, Robbie Ray could have kept it going.

Instead, he settled for six innings pitched, including 10 strikeouts, three hits allowed and two runs (one earned) given up to the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Monday.

“When I command my fastball it just makes all my pitches better,” Ray told the media in Los Angeles.

Settling isn’t so bad after Ray’s third game of 2017. For the year, he has a 1.96 ERA with four earned runs and 10 hits allowed in 18.1 innings. He has 12 walks, 24 strikeouts and an opponent batting average of just .156.

Near the end of his evening Monday in what turned into a 4-2 D-backs win, Ray came a strikeout short of matching the Arizona franchise record of seven consecutive Ks.

The Diamondbacks’ record is held by Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the former of whom accomplished the feat three times during the 2001 season. Schilling’s single game of seven consecutive strikeouts also came during Arizona’s World Series campaign.

On Monday, Ray approached 50 pitches in his first two innings, which included three of his four walks and a wild pitch. He found his groove in the fourth and fifth frames after giving up a lead-off solo shot to Enrique Hernandez to begin the bottom of the fourth.

Following the home run, Ray settled in. The left-hander struck out six straight batters to give him 10 for the game by the end of the fifth.

A pop-up by the Dodgers to begin the sixth frame ended Ray’s bid to reach the D-backs’ team mark for consecutive strikeouts, but it began a seven-pitch final inning for the 25-year-old starter who threw 99 pitches, 58 for strikes.

“Something clicked when I was throwing pitches in between innings and I felt it and was able to take it,” Ray said.

Offensively, Ray even added to the D-backs’ comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the fifth inning, singling to right field with two outs to put D-backs runners on the corners. From there, Chris Owings scored from third base on an A.J. Pollock RBI, and Ray touched home from second base on a single by David Peralta to tie the game.

Arizona took a 3-2 lead on Jake Lamb’s solo homer in the eighth inning before Peralta scored Pollock with a ninth-inning triple for insurance.

The Diamondbacks closed the four-game set against the Dodgers with a split.

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