ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Zack Greinke dominates Rockies as Diamondbacks avoid sweep

Jul 22, 2018, 5:10 PM | Updated: 7:33 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke throws against the Colorado Rockies during the f...
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke throws against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 22, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks paid starting pitcher Zack Greinke a whole lot of money to help them on days like Sunday.

Coming off the All-Star break only 0.5 games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers and 1.5 games ahead of the Colorado Rockies, the D-backs had a big three-game series at home against Colorado.

The D-backs lost by a run in consecutive nights, putting themselves in third place for the first time all season and needing a win to avoid being swept.

Greinke makes $34 million this year, and the fielders starting with him on Sunday make a combined $35.05 million, per Spotrac.

Arizona paid for an ace, a high-quality one that needs to step up in big spots.

Sunday wasn’t Game 7 of the World Series, but it was an important bounce-back game for the D-backs before they traveled to Chicago to take on a Cubs team 18 games over .500.

The D-backs got their money’s worth in the series finale. Greinke pitched a season-high eight innings, giving up two hits, a walk and a run while striking out a season-high 13 in a D-backs 6-1 win.

“Zack came out, on a day when we could have been flatlined, and picked us up and we jumped on his back and he carried us a long way and that’s exactly what we needed,” manager Torey Lovullo said after the game.

“Everything’s been really good,” Greinke said. “Felt comfortable out there and made a lot of good pitches.”

The right-hander was dominant, allowing only a few decent bits of contact from a strong Rockies batting order. Greinke had a no-hitter going through four innings and his only run allowed was from an Ian Desmond solo shot that right fielder Steven Souza Jr. could have robbed with more time. Souza said after the game because of the velocity at which the ball was hit, it was tough to judge and make a quick play on.

Arizona’s offense didn’t necessarily explode off Colorado starter Antonio Senzatela, which made Greinke’s performance all the more important.

A.J. Pollock and Souza hit back-to-back doubles to left for the team’s first run in the opening inning and Nick Ahmed’s triple brought home two more runs in the fourth.

When Senzatela exited, though, the D-backs capitalized on one of the worst bullpens in baseball.

With the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, Ahmed was walked on four pitches by Yency Almonte, who had just come into the game.

Almonte threw his fifth straight ball to Jeff Mathis before a quick mound visit from catcher Tom Murphy. In a predictable turn of events, Almonte threw a ball right down the middle that Mathis crushed for a two-run single that made it a 6-1 D-backs lead through six innings.

Andrew Chafin entered for Greinke in the ninth, recording two outs before Silvino Bracho closed out the game and sealed the win.

Greinke’s season ERA now sits at 3.05 and he’s allowed only five earned runs over his last six starts (39.2 IP for a 1.13 ERA).

In a highly competitive division that could force Arizona to look toward the Wild Card standings, Greinke’s top form is exactly what the team needed during an inconsistent month of baseball.

“That was a phenomenal effort on a day when we really, really needed it,” Lovullo said.

UP NEXT

Arizona heads on the road for seven games in seven days, where the first series doesn’t get much easier. They will be at Wrigley Field for four games against the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs starting Monday.

First pitch is at 5 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM.

Patrick Corbin takes the mound for Arizona while Chicago rolls out Luke Farrell.

Corbin is 6-4 with a 3.24 ERA, coming off a loss to the Braves in which he allowed four earned runs in 6.0 innings.

Farrell, 27, has made 19 appearances and one start for the Cubs this season for an ERA of 3.86.

Keep an eye on Paul Goldschmidt in this series. After a career-worst slump to start the year, Goldschmidt had an outstanding run in June and the first half of July. In the three games against Colorado, however, Goldschmidt was 1-for-12 with nine strikeouts.

The D-backs have won three of their last four at Wrigley.

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