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D-backs’ bats stay hot for second game in a row against Giants

Arizona Diamondbacks Steven Souza Jr. hits a two-run triple in the first inning during a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Arizona Diamondbacks’ offense was on fire early for the second night in a row against the San Francisco Giants, scoring five first-inning runs that paved the way to a 9-3 victory on Saturday.

Perhaps it was an effort to impress the legendary players who were at Chase Field for the annual Alumni Game and 20th-anniversary team celebration, but this was only the second time in franchise history the D-backs have scored at least five first-inning runs on consecutive nights.

Steven Souza Jr. has continued his offensive resurgence since getting healthy. The outfielder kicked things off in the first inning with a two-RBI triple that scored David Peralta and Paul Goldschmidt. He scored on a Nick Ahmed single as part of the big, five-run first. Ketel Marte capped the inning off with a solo home run, his tenth of the season.

The dynamic duo of Souza and Ahmed wreaked havoc on starting pitcher Andrew Suarez again in the fifth inning. Souza drove in Eduardo Escobar with a RBI double and subsequently scored when Ahmed smashed a two-RBI dinger into the D-backs bullpen.

Ahmed added a second home run in the eighth inning off of relief pitcher Derek Law, his 16th of the season. That is good for third-most in a single season by a D-backs shortstop behind Stephen Drew and Jay Bell.

Meanwhile, starting pitcher Clay Buchholz took care of business as he has done since being acquired by the D-backs. Buchholz got into some jams and had issues getting Andrew McCutchen out all night, but was able to get some well-timed strikeouts that halted any momentum the Giants could build.

Buchholz settled in nicely, tossing clean innings in the fifth and sixth. He lasted six innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs with eight strikeouts and two walks. He improves to 5-1 this season with a 2.93 ERA.

The D-backs win this one and will look to win the four-game series on Sunday.

THE GOOD

– Souza continues to rake, with his last 17 games being a stark contrast to his first 18 with this team. Souza was hitting just .148 with nine hits and five RBI prior to July 10. Since then, he is hitting .338 with seven doubles, two triples, one home run, 13 RBI, and seven walks.

– Buchholz won his fifth consecutive decision dating back to June 1 and his fourth game in a row. This is his first time winning four in a row since July 4, 2015.

– With his home run in the first inning, Marte became the fourth player in franchise history to have a 10+ HR, 10+ triple season. Steve Finley, Stephen Drew and David Peralta are the other three.

THE BAD

– Nobody could get McCutchen out. Nobody. The right fielder went 5-5 with three singles, a double, a HR and two RBI.

– Jose Valverde plunked Shea Hillenbrand during the Alumni Game. It was a sight to behold.

STAT OF THE GAME

Five runs in the first inning in back-to-back games: This was only the second time in team history where the D-backs have scored at least five runs in the first inning in back-to-back games. May 19-20, 2017 was the only other time they accomplished this feat.

HE SAID IT

“The thing that stands out for me with Clay is that when his back was against the wall, he didn’t give in. He made some pitches to preserve a 5-2 lead. The Giants are a very potent team. You really can’t take any lead for granted. They’ll jump on you in a hurry, and Clay did not give in.” – Torey Lovullo on Buchholz’s night

NOTED

– Before Saturday’s game, the D-backs honored past and current players with their annual Alumni Game and 20th-anniversary team celebration. Team Red beat Team Purple in the three-inning exhibition game by a score of 1-0.

– Arizona leads all of MLB with 92 first-inning runs scored.

– The D-backs are now 9-4 in their last 13 games.

– 38,093 were in attendance for Saturday’s game. Game time temps were at 107 degrees outside and 80 degrees inside.

UP NEXT

The D-backs will go for the series win on Sunday against the Giants with Robbie Ray on the mound against left-handed pitcher Derek Holland (5-8, 3.90 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PM with pregame coverage beginning 40 minutes earlier on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Ray has struggled since returning from his left oblique injury on June 27. In that timeframe, Ray is 1-2 in seven starts with a 5.14 ERA. The D-backs have only won one of those four no-decisions.

On the flip side, Ray is 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in ten career starts against the Giants, and his 11.86 Ks per nine innings pitched is fourth best among NL pitchers.