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Zack Greinke, David Peralta lead the way as D-backs avoid Padres sweep

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke throws in the first inning during a baseball game against he San Diego Padres, Sunday, April 14, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX — Sometimes, you need your best players to shoulder the load to end a losing streak, and the Arizona Diamondbacks got just that on Sunday.

After losing their fourth-straight game Saturday, the Arizona Diamondbacks (7-9) responded in a big way with an 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres (11-6) behind the bat of David Peralta and the best start this season from Zack Greinke.

Peralta’s pinch-hit, 3-run home run in the sixth inning gave the D-backs an insurmountable lead while Greinke tossed a season-best seven innings while allowing just four hits and two runs.

“Everybody thinks a stopper’s the last guy that’s out there, right? Your closer, your stopper,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of Greinke after the game. “But there are stoppers in the rotation and he’s been a stopper for us for a lot of sub-par moments. So when you look around and you see that he’s out there, it’s a really good feeling.

“And I think that’s what energized our guys, that’s my gut feeling. I feel like we had an energized lineup, they went out there and played really good baseball but without Zack setting the tone it doesn’t happen.”

Greinke didn’t have to deal with the big bat of Manny Machado — the third baseman was inactive Sunday — but found himself in an early hole when allowed a leadoff home run to Manuel Margot.

From there, however, the starting pitcher settled in.

Other than allowing another solo shot to Padres rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. later in the game, Greinke was stellar, throwing 98 pitches in his seven innings while striking out six.

With his strikeout total Sunday, Greinke moved into 40th place on the all-time strikeout list, passing Jim Kaat (2,461).

Greinke also helped his cause on offense, going 2-3 on the day, including a leadoff double in the fifth. He later scored.

“[Greinke] offers so much besides being a really good pitcher,” the skipper added of Greinke. “I looked up at his career numbers offensively and they’re respectable for an up-and-down type of position player. Just a pretty special talent.

“He chips in with two hits and just following game plans, asking questions like position players do with game planning and how to attack pitchers offensively so we use that to our advantage. We know he’s going to walk up there and put a good swing on the baseball.”

Peralta echoed those comments.

“If you want to have a good conversation with Zack Greinke, ask about hitting,” Peralta said when asked about Greinke’s offense. “He loves to talk about hitting, he knows what he’s doing and he’s got a pretty good swing, you can see it, he can hit the ball.”

With Greinke’s two hits Sunday, the D-backs’ pitching staff now lead the majors in runs scored with seven. They had 12 all of last season.

While Greinke worked his way through the game, the D-backs couldn’t quite pull away from the Padres.

After grabbing their first lead since Thursday thanks to a Ketel Marte two-run home run in the third inning, the D-backs gave it right back in the fifth before regaining a slim 3-2 edge in the sixth.

Then Peralta stepped up to pinch-hit in the sixth.

After getting drilled by Padres starter Matt Strahm on Saturday, Peralta, who out of the starting lineup Sunday for rest, only need one at-bat to return the favor, sending a moon shot to left field.

It was Peralta’s first career pinch-hit home run.

“He hasn’t stopped [hitting well since Opening Day], I think mechanically he worked on a couple things throughout spring training and that’s what it’s for,” Lovullo said of Peralta. “I think he’s got all that adjusted perfectly, timed up just right and he’s been back-spinning the baseball.

“Versus left-handed pitchers, right-handed pitchers, it doesn’t matter. Today’s home run was a big blow for us. It got us a little bit of relief, something we hadn’t had in awhile. When your team feels that it builds up a little confidence and it will build into the next day.”

The spark of offense was a welcome sight for a D-backs team that has struggled mightily with runners in scoring position.

Entering play Sunday, Arizona was just 8-for-45 (.177) with RISP this week. And while Sunday’s 2-for-9 (.222) isn’t where the team would ideally like to be, it’s an improvement.

“Even if you’re not in the lineup, you always have to be ready for the opportunity, any kind of opportunity, and I saw it was coming” Peralta said about his three-run home run. “I was even ready before Torey mentioned something to me.

“[Lovullo] was looking for me and I was already had my batting glove and everything on. … You got to be prepared for anything because now if you have the day off it doesn’t matter. In the situation, you have to do your job. … It only takes one pitch do something.”

With 25 hits in the first 16 games of the season, Peralta is tied for the team record set by Matt Williams in 1999.

Adding to the offense was Christian Walker.

After Yoshihisa Hirano allowed two runs in the eighth, bringing the score to 7-4, Walker squashed any inkling of a San Diego comeback with a solo homer later in the inning. He finished the day going 3-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

“We got the win, we’re going to have a day off, we’re going to celebrate because you have to celebrate when you win,” Peralta said. “We have to take pride in that and just be ready for the road.”

Up next, the D-backs have an off day before traveling to Atlanta to take on the Braves.

You can catch all the action on ESPN 620 AM.

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