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Grit Index: Ross ‘on top of his game’ as D-backs’ home stand ends on sour note

PHOENIX — After two lopsided blowouts, the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres settled in for a good old-fashioned pitching duel Sunday afternoon.

With All-Star Patrick Corbin on the mound, the D-backs looked to have the upper hand in the rubber match of the three-game series, but Padres right-hander Tyson Ross, who came into the contest with a 1-4 record and a 3.35 ERA, had other ideas.

A spot starter for much of the 2013 season, Ross, with a bevy of 95-mph fastballs and hard sliders, tossed the game of his career. In eight innings of work, the former second-round pick out of California threw a career-high eight innings and allowed no runs on three hits as the Padres blanked the D-backs 1-0 at Chase Field.

Forty-eight hours after knocking San Diego around to the tune of a 10-0 blowout victory, Arizona’s offense was virtually inept against Ross and the Padres. Outside of a triple by Cliff Pennington to lead off the third inning, not a single D-back reached third base all afternoon.

“He was on from the start,” D-backs center fielder A.J. Pollock said. “When he got behind, whether it was 2-0 counts or 3-1 counts, he was spotting up his pitches. “It made it difficult to hit. He was just on the top of his game.”

On the flipside, Corbin was also on the top of his game and deserved no part in the loss. However with a lack of run support, the 23-year-old left-hander moved to 12-2 and suffered his first home defeat of the season.

Corbin allowed just one run on six hits, while striking out eight and threw 75 of his 102 pitches for strikes.

“I was trying to do the same thing [as Tyson Ross],” said Corbin. “Go out there and give up as few runs as possible. Today we didn’t get many chances to score, and the one we had we didn’t capitalize on.

“These are things we’re going to get better at. Hopefully on this upcoming road trip we come out with a winning series.”

Ironically, the Padres were the last team to shut out the D-backs at Chase Field on Aug. 24, 2012. The losing pitcher on that night was also Corbin.

The Good:

Even in defeat, Corbin recorded his fourth consecutive quality start and has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his last eight outings.

Cliff Pennington continued to swing a hot bat of the plate. The D-backs shortstop recorded two of the team’s three hits and went 7-for-12 during the seven-game home stand.

“Penny was great,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “And he’s been really good lately, worked hard. He made a lot of not only offensive, good defensive plays. He has a pretty keen eye and sees a lot of things that go on in a game that he shares with his teammates.”

The Bad:

Outside of a few hard hit balls, the D-backs’ best offensive chance came in the third inning.

But after Pennington tripled down the right field line, Corbin flied out to shallow left, Adam Eaton grounded out weakly to second and Aaron Hill struck out swinging.

“They brought the infield in and that’s an ideal situation,” said Gibson. “You’re standing up there with a guy on third base and their infield is drawn in, that’s an ideal situation. We should have got the run in. That’s our bad, because you’ve got to the ball hard in play.”


-Left fielder Jason Kubel was taken out of the lineup due to back tightness before the game. In his place, A.J. Pollock played center fielder and Adam Eaton moved over to left.

-Arizona finished 3-4 on its seven-game homestand against two sub-.500 teams.

-The D-backs weren’t shut out until their 79th game of 2013, however in their last 10 games they’ve been blanked twice.

He Said It:

“It’s a tough place to get it out to that wall. It kind of caught me where that wall juts out and it’s kind of a funky outfield here. It’s difficult. I know all of the nooks and crannies, but sometimes like that it catches you by surprise.” – A.J. Pollock on misplaying Chase Headley’s double into a triple in the top of the first inning

Up Next:

The D-backs won’t be receiving any favors following their lackluster home stand. Kirk Gibson and Co. head out on the road for six games against three of top teams in the American League. First up are the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night. Right-hander Ian Kennedy (3-7, 5.22 ERA) will look to win his first game since June 1. Joe Maddon will counter with right-hander Roberto Hernandez (5-11, 4.92 ERA). First pitch is at 4:10 p.m. MST and can be heard on Arizona Sports 620.