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D-backs’ bullpen squanders Zack Greinke’s outing in loss to Brewers

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke waits to face a hitter during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — In his last start, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke didn’t look like his normal self.

The ace suffered one of his worst losses of the season, giving up five earned runs on eight hits. Just two of his previous starts in 2019 have been worse.

With that in mind, and the added talk surrounding the pitcher with the MLB trade deadline closing in, the question was: How would Greinke perform back at Chase Field?

But while that question was quickly answered, as the pitcher was dealing from the start, the D-backs’ bullpen couldn’t keep a lead, falling 8-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers Saturday night.

“That was probably one of the most frustrating games that we’ve had this year,” manager Torey Lovullo said following the loss.

“You feel like after seven innings, Zack [Greinke] is throwing the ball extremely well, you’re going to turn it over to your bullpen and you got the matchups that you want and it’s just the beauty of this game. It’s what makes this game so spectacular.

“It was set up for us and we just didn’t execute. When you make some mistakes to some good hitters, you’re going to pay for it.”

It was a wasted effort from Greinke as he went 7.0 innings (101 pitches/66 strikes), allowing just two earned runs on six hits while fanning nine.

The pitcher also chipped in offensively, recording an RBI-double.

Greinke dug in early, giving up just one hit through three scoreless innings with Arizona up 1-0.

“All the stuff was pretty sharp and locating good and mixing it up good,” Greinke said. “Thought it felt good out there, better than last time for sure.”

Even in a jam, Greinke stayed dialed in.

While the first three innings were a breeze for the pitcher, the fourth inning put Greinke to the test.

A Christian Yelich double kicked off the inning for the Brewers, who entered the evening 0.5 games ahead of the D-backs in the NL Wild Card standings, before a Ryan Braun single knotted things up at 1-1 with no outs in the frame.

Greinke managed to strike out the next batter, Mike Moustakas, for the first out of the inning, but then proceeded to give up a double to Keston Huira, putting two runners in scoring position. He then loaded up the bases with an intentional walk the following hitter.

But Greinke showed why he’s one of the league’s best.

The 35-year-old went to work on the next two batters, recording consecutive strikeouts to get out of the inning with limited damage.

“Like I said, Zack [Greinke] was outstanding,” Lovullo said of the pitcher. “What more can you say about the seven innings? Just attacking the zone, using his stuff and really single-handedly kept us in that situation where we had that one-run lead.”

But as stellar as Greinke performed, the D-backs’ bullpen faltered in his absence.

Entering the eighth inning up 3-2, Andrew Chafin came in as relief. Two pitches later, Yelich was aboard with a single. Chafin then walked Braun, putting two men on with no outs.

Then came what would be the eventual dagger.

Needing only three pitches, Moustakas took Chafin deep, blasting a three-run homer to flip the scoreboard in favor of Milwaukee at 5-3.

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad you’ve been throwing, you give up three runs it’s a frustrating night,” Chafin said. “Obviously walks usually come back to bite you. It’s frustrating, the whole thing was frustrating but it is what it is.”

The Brewers would add three more runs in the ninth, extending the lead to 8-3.

“You can’t put your finger on it,” Lovullo said of the bullpen. “I know these guys are grinding and getting the job done most of the time and when they don’t do it, it spoils you, right?

“That’s the nature of the beast when you make a couple mistakes and there’s some hiccups that get hit around, it’s going to change the outcome of the game.”

The D-backs bats also played a part in the defeat.

Continuing the trend of hot-and-cold outings, Arizona couldn’t find a rhythm, scoring just three runs on six hits.

It’s been a tale of two offenses for the team as they put up 10 runs on Friday night, but only mustered a run in the series opener. In the two-game series prior against the Texas Rangers, the D-backs combined for 28 runs, but saw just eight runs total in three games against the St. Louis Cardinals in mid-July.

For the Diamondbacks, and most noticeably Christian Walker, their frustrations on the strike zone seemed to boil over from Friday to Saturday.

“It’s frustrating for sure,” Walker said. “You feel like you put yourself in some good positions as a hitter, it doesn’t always work out, but we try to do the best we can. Hitting is extremely difficult, so when you feel like you’ve been cheated or gipped it can be frustrating.

“But just keep your head screwed on straight and try to help the team win another way.”

On Friday, Ketel Marte was ejected for arguing balls and strikes and slamming his bat and helmet on the ground.

“Not much we can do about it right now,” Lovullo said of the loss. “We’ve got to get through this and get ready for tomorrow. We’ve done it all year long and I know these guys will process what happened today and make sure that they’ve turned the page properly and be ready to go tomorrow.

“I like our team and I like our chances.”

The D-backs will look to rebound from Saturday night’s performance in the series finale against the Brewers. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m.

Catch all the action live on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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