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D-backs deal last blow of back-and-forth victory in Corbin’s return

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taylor Clarke throws against the Washington Nationals in the first inning during a baseball game, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX — Baseball is a strange sport.

With rookie right-hander Taylor Clarke and his 5.53 ERA on the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday, it felt like Arizona would need some good fortune to get a win with former D-back Patrick Corbin starting for the Washington Nationals.

That’s especially considering the fact Corbin had allowed 10 total earned runs in his last eight starts, with Washington winning seven of those eight games.

So when Clarke gave up a two-run homer in the second inning to break a deadlock, Corbin rolling through to his first win as a visitor at Chase Field had some obvious inevitability to it.

As they say, though, that’s why they play the game.

Corbin hit several speed bumps through his outing, but even that wasn’t enough for the D-backs to get a win, as sloppy bullpen play from both sides had us back-and-forth before arriving at an eventual 7-5 D-backs victory.

In that second inning after Gerardo Parra’s homer, Corbin proceeded to start his bottom-half by giving up a walk, double, walk and another double to put the D-backs in front 3-2.

A Ketel Marte inside-the-park homer and Brian Dozier bomb hit off Clarke gave each team a run to get us to the breaking point of the game in the sixth.

One of the divides amongst the fanbase for manager Torey Lovullo’s tenure as a manager has been his timing with going to the bullpen.

A predicament of that nature arose on Sunday when the top of the sixth rolled around. Clarke was five innings into his outing, having thrown 66 pitches and allowed only five baserunners.

So, keep him in, right? Well, the heart of the order for the Nationals was coming up on their third look at Clarke, and despite the way his line looked, the right-hander had Nationals bats getting very good contact off him all afternoon.

Lovullo kept him in to face Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto — Washington’s two best hitters — and Clarke retired both. At that point, Lovullo felt the job was done and he didn’t want to risk it any further.

“I clipped him a little early,” Lovullo said of the decision.

When asked further on the decision, Lovullo cited the numbers lining up better with the matchups out of the bullpen.

He pulled Clarke for lefty Andrew Chafin, who gave up a single to left-handed Matt Adams, the one batter he faced before Yoan Lopez came in.

Lopez promptly couldn’t throw a strike, giving up a single to Dozier and a walk before a passed ball tied the game at 4-4, giving Clarke a no-decision.

Lovullo pointed out that Adams, a long fly ball, and Dozier, a home run, were both coming off good-looking at-bats against Clarke the last time through, which also factored in.

“It was a hard decision, trust me,” Lovullo said. “I had a lot of conversation with the people around me.”

Luckily, the D-backs offense was there to pick up the bullpen on two different occasions.

Adam Jones hit his second RBI double of the day in the sixth, ending Corbin’s outing and putting the D-backs up 5-4.

The left-hander had a rocky return home, giving up seven hits, three walks and five earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched.

Yoshihisa Hirano took over the seventh for Arizona and threw an eventful 21 pitches that resulted in a run for Washington, putting us in another tie.

Once again, however, it was Jones in the bottom-half to put Arizona back in front. He singled to bring in two more runs, putting his day at three hits and four RBIs. The RBIs are a season-high for Jones and also match the total amount he had in the month of July.

After that, the wheels started to slowly come back on the bus of an up-and-down game. Archie Bradley took care of the eighth and stayed in for the ninth, earning a two-inning save.

That’s the first save of Bradley’s career to go at least two innings and he continues his best stretch throwing the ball of the season.

“He’s earned that opportunity,” Lovullo said.

Bradley has now thrown 14.1 scoreless innings in his last 11 outings, giving up six hits and six walks.

Lovullo wouldn’t commit to saying Bradley was now his closer, but said with the way things got rocky the two innings prior that had him also pinch-hit for Lopez, it put Bradley in a position to finish the game.

Leave it to Bradley, who has arguably had the most downs of any D-back this season, to provide the stabilizing force in a game that was desperate for it from a reliever.

“I just really wanted to come in and shut this thing down,” Bradley said

UP NEXT

The D-backs start a three-game series at home against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Merrill Kelly gets the nod and is hoping to bounce back, as he’s going through the worst stretch of his rookie season.

He’s allowed seven earned runs in each of his last two starts. While Kelly hasn’t been outstanding for Arizona, the right-hander has been solid in the back-end of the rotation. In 22 starts, Kelly has allowed over four earned runs in only four outings and under three runs in 10.

Kelly faces off with Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez. He’s coming off four starts in July where he gave up eight earned runs in 20.1 innings and is 3-6 this season with a 4.40 ERA.

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