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D-backs’ comeback falls short, Greinke picks up first home loss since August

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke throws a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 13, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks bookended their 5-4 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday with a promising first inning and a hard-fought ninth.

Somewhere in between, they lost the game.

As had been the case for much of the series, Arizona benefited from some good fortune and inadvertent favors from Pittsburgh in Wednesday’s first inning.

Zack Greinke took the hill and retired the side with an 11-pitch first inning, and David Peralta hit a two-run home run in the home half of the frame when his fly ball bounced off the left fielder’s glove and into the seats.

The second inning was much different.

Greinke fired off 40 pitches in that second frame, allowing four runs on three hits and two walks. Pittsburgh had both a 4-2 lead and their opposing pitcher’s pitch count over 50. Their own starting pitcher, Jameson Taillon, got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second and stymied the D-backs’ bats for seven strong innings until the Pirates’ bullpen took over.

But by the ninth inning, the Pirates were no longer in cruise control.

“One of those games, unfortunately, where I felt like we ran out of time and ran out of innings,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “We were closing the gap quickly and added on a couple runs in the ninth, and had some really nice approaches. I was happy to see that and made that ninth inning very exciting by not shutting down and being engaged.”

Facing left-hander Felipe Vazquez, the D-backs started things off with a single and a walk with nobody out. A Nick Ahmed ground ball looked like a sure double play, but third baseman Colin Moran took the unassisted out at third, and his throw to first wasn’t in time.

Two on, one out.

“It’s an instinctual play,” Lovullo said. “[Moran] felt like he could step on the bag and throw it across the diamond to complete the double play. … Fortunately, we got an extra out out of the play and made it interesting.”

A Jeff Mathis strikeout set up John Ryan Murphy to pinch hit, and his walk loaded the bases for newcomer Jon Jay. Jay, a left-handed hitter, sliced a base hit the other way into left field, two runs scored, and it was 5-4 Pirates.

“[Vazquez] has got good stuff. I’m just trying to go up there, keep the inning the alive,” Jay said. “I know I’ve got Goldy behind me and the rest of the order coming up, I was just trying to do my part and keep the line moving.”

Paul Goldschmidt was intentionally walked, and Jake Lamb struck out in a seven-pitch at bat to end the game. The Pirates avoided being swept as its bullpen narrowly escaped the bottom of the ninth.

For Greinke, his outing lasted 4.2 IP with five runs allowed on five hits, four walks and seven strikeouts. Aside from the rocky second inning, Greinke allowed a solo home run in the fourth to Jordy Mercer (who got Greinke earlier with a two-RBI double) and left the game in the fifth with the bases loaded. Those runners did not score.

“[My stuff] felt good, but any time you leave a pitch over the plate, they hit it pretty good,” Greinke said. “As long as I made pretty good pitches it was fine. But I wasn’t able to do that every time.”

After Greinke, the D-backs bullpen provided 4.1 IP of scoreless relief. After a 2.1-inning appearance from McFarland, Andrew Chafin and Silvino Bracho each pitched scoreless innings.

That set up the ninth inning, the one that almost turned the tides of the game.

STAT OF THE GAME

August 9, 2017: The last time Zack Greinke lost a game at Chase Field, prior to Wednesday.

HE SAID IT

Greinke, on his 40-pitch second inning: “Not a great pitch to the leadoff guy, but of all the pitches that they got a hit on today, that might have been one of the better ones. But he put a really good swing on it and [I] just didn’t do good after that.”

NOTED

–Peralta’s first-inning home run was his 500th career hit.

–The Diamondbacks sent RHP Braden Shipley back to the Reno Aces (AAA) on Wednesday and activated catcher Jeff Mathis off of the paternity list. Shipley made two appearances — both in relief — allowing no runs over three innings with no hits or walks and one strikeout. Lovullo said Shipley would remain in a relief role for the time being, as he had previously been starting in both the minors and majors.

–Per Fox Sports Arizona, LHP Robbie Ray (oblique) will pitch a rehab start on Thursday night in Visalia.

–OF Steven Souza Jr. (pectoral) threw for five minutes on Wednesday. There were no reported issues.

–LHP Jorge De La Rosa (Achilles) worked on pitcher’s fielding practice on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

The D-backs have one more series in this homestand, a four-game set against the New York Mets. It will be the second time the two teams face each other this season, the first having come back in May when the D-backs were swept in New York. That was part of a seven-game losing streak for Arizona.

This time, the Diamondbacks have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games as they start their series against the Mets, while New York is 1-9 in its last 10 and in fourth place in the NL East. The Mets have three wins since May 24.

After that series, the D-backs begin a 10-game road trip with stops in Anaheim, Pittsburgh and Miami.

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