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Quiet bats end Diamondbacks’ dominance of Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates' Gregory Polanco (25) is forced out by Arizona Diamondbacks' Nick Ahmed (13) on a ball hit by Josh Bell during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks struggled to get runners home last week. And that’s putting it nicely. They left 22 guys on base in a three-game series against the Rays, then stranded another 40 against the Braves for good measure.

That wasn’t an issue on Tuesday night though. Because they only managed four hits.

Josh Bell homered twice, Mountain Pointe product Cole Tucker added another and Joe Musgrove tossed seven scoreless innings as the Pittsburgh Pirates knocked off Arizona 6-2 in front of 21,047 fans at Chase Field.

“We couldn’t get anything going offensively,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo acknowledged. “Their starting pitcher was effective with some early count pitches, and just kind of beating us to the spot. It wasn’t what I was expecting after a really offensive day yesterday.”

That offensive day that Lovullo was referencing was a 13-hit effort by the D-backs on Monday that produced a 9-3 victory and extended their winning streak over the Pirates to nine games. That streak’s over now, though.

Luke Weaver (3-2) suffered just his second loss since coming to the desert, but he still delivered a quality start, despite not having his best stuff.

“I thought Luke was very good today,” Lovullo explained. “He threw the ball extremely well. I know he got clipped for the two-run home run that kind of changed his line score, but more than efficient. Six innings, three runs, kept us in the ballgame, gave us a chance to play a little bit of catch-up and was pounding the zone. He might have been a little more erratic with the secondary stuff but, overall, I thought he made some quality adjustments.”

The 25-year old righty cruised through the first and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second, before allowing a run on a fielder’s choice from Bell in the third.

He retired the side in order in the fourth before Bell launched a 446-foot homer to center in the fifth to open things up.

“An absolute terrible pitch to Bell,” Weaver conceded. “A guy swinging a bat that hot, you just can’t make a mistake like that. Especially when you’re in such an advantage count. I think it was 0-2. Not at all trying to throw it there. Just got on top of it a little too much and it just drifted on the plate.”

From there, the D-backs just couldn’t get to Musgrove. They managed only two walks and a single – courtesy of Eduardo Escobar in the fourth – in the seven innings he was on the mound, and never moved a runner past first.

In fact, all their production came against the Pittsburgh bullpen. Carson Kelly took Richard Rodriguez deep in the eighth, then David Peralta singled and came around to score on an Adam Jones single off of Michael Feliz in the ninth.

Problem is, Bell wasn’t done. With his 14-game hitting streak already intact, he led off the eighth with a 460-foot blast to right. Tucker followed that up four batters later by pushing a two-run shot just over the wall.

Making matters worse, those two eighth-inning homers came off Zack Godley, who Lovullo suggested before the game might be able to work his way back into another start this Saturday.

The fact that Godley had to pitch on Tuesday might not hinder that plan. But his 7.88 ERA so far in May isn’t helping. The switch to the bullpen was supposed to get him back on track, but it hasn’t yielded results in the box score yet.

Despite the loss, the Diamondbacks are three games above .500 with a respectable 23-20 record. And they’ll have Zack Greinke on the mound for a potential pitching duel with Chris Archer on Wednesday afternoon.

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