PHOENIX — OK, let’s get it out of the way.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t say the force was with us today,” Josh Collmenter said, referring to Star Wars Day at Chase Field.
Yes, the force was strong with the Arezona Diamondbacks right-hander. He pitched five scoreless innings before Anthony Rizzo tagged him with a one-out, solo home run in the sixth, the only blemish on his seven-inning, four-hit performance.
“You could see right from the beginning, the first hitter, he had great location. He was throwing to both sides of the plate,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “He was vintage Colly. He had a good, live arm today.”
Behind Collmenter, the Diamondbacks handed the Chicago Cubs their fifth straight defeat, 3-2, completing the three-game series sweep in front of an announced crowd of 37,131.
It was the D-backs first’ home series sweep of the season and just their second overall.
“We’ve been looking to do that all year,” Gibson said. “We’ve gotten some pretty good starting pitching, too. That kind of sets the tone for us.”
Collmenter (8-5) walked one and struck out four as he was able to consistently get ahead of hitters, throwing a first pitch strike to 17 of the 26 batters he faced, including eight of the first 11.
He needed to be good because Cubs starter Jake Arrieta (5-2) was equally as impressive, blanking the Diamondbacks over the first five innings.
Not until David Peralta’s RBI double in the sixth did the D-backs cross home plate. Peralta drove in a second run, and what proved to be the difference in the ballgame, with a two-out base hit in the seventh.
“When you work hard, do the right thing, a lot of good things are going to happen,” he said. “That’s all I’ve been doing since I was starting in Double-A.”
The Diamondbacks have won the first three games out of the All-Star break for only the second time in club history, matching the 2002 squad.
Collmenter pitched at least seven innings in consecutive starts for the first time in his career. He improved to 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA (9 ER in 31.1 IP) in his last six games, including five starts.
Aaron Hill singled with one out in the second inning to extend his hitting streak to five games, currently the longest active hitting streak of any Diamondbacks player. He went 2-for-4 and 5-for-12 for the series, raising his average six points to .247.
Each swinging at the first pitch thrown, Ender Inciarte and Peralta opened the sixth inning with back-to-back doubles to the wall in left field. Aside from Hill, they were the only other Diamondbacks batters to record a hit off Arrieta.
By the way, Peralta finished 2-for-4 with two RBI. It was his 17th multi-hit game, and he is now batting .412 (21-for-51) with eleven RBI in his last 14 games. His 47 hits through 38 games are tied with Stephen Drew’s 47 in 2006 for the most in club history.
Upon further review, Mark Trumbo stole his first base of the season — and first since Sept. 17, 2013 against the Ragners –in the seventh inning. He was initially called out at second but Gibson challenged the ruling. The play was overturned after a review that lasted 2:02. Trumbo later scored the Diamondbacks’ third run.
Through the first three innings, Diamondbacks hitters struck out six times — twice in each frame — or half as many times as they had fanned combined in the first two games of the series. The final total was 10 strikeouts, eight by Arrieta.
One pitch. It was a changeup to Rizzo that otherwise ruined a great outing by Collmenter, whose first offering to the Cubs first baseman was launched into the rightfield seats with one out in the sixth inning. It was Rizzo’s third home run of the series and career-high tying 23rd of the season.
STAT OF THE GAME:
16: The Diamondbacks scored 16 of their 17 runs in the series in the fifth inning or later
HE SAID IT:
“So exciting. I’ve eating really good with my Mom cooking for me, so that’s good. But, feels really good,” Peralta said of having his family at the game. “They’re so excited for me. That was their first time here, watching me play in the big leagues. I’m pretty happy.”
– The Diamondbacks’ sweep was their first three-game series sweep of the Cubs since June 22-24, 2012 — while their five-game winning streak against the Cubs is the longest since June 30, 2005 – July 31, 2006.
– The Diamondbacks’ second run of the game scored when Rizzo tumbled into the camera well as he caught Hill’s pop fly; the runners were awarded a base because the defender took the ball out of play.
– The 37,131 fans in attendance were the most at a Sunday Chase Field game since June 9, 2013 against the Giants — all three games drew more than 32,000 fans.
The homestand concludes with a visit from the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers. It’s a three-game series that gets underway on Monday, July 21. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Vidal Nuno (0-1, 3.00) will make his third start for the Diamondbacks since being acquired from the Yankees on July 6 in exchange for Brandon McCarthy and cash considerations. He has never faced the Tigers.
Detroit, meanwhile, counters with six-time All-Star Justin Verlander (8-8, 4.88). The veteran right-hander has won two of his last three starts, and he is 1-0 in his career against the Diamondbacks.
The D-backs are 15-12 all-time against the Tigers, including an 8-4 mark at Chase Field.