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D-backs back in win column after bats come alive early against Padres

Arizona Diamondbacks' Ketel Marte, right, celebrates with Josh Rojas (9) after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning during a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX — After a massive series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks entered Monday’s contest with the San Diego Padres looking to continue their winning ways.

Looking to avoid a let down following an impressive six-game winning streak, the D-backs (71-67) unloaded on the Padres (64-73) early and often, accounting for four home runs and 18 hits in the team’s 14-7 win in front of the 23,477 in attendance at Chase Field.

“To come out and do what we did today after a tough loss [Sunday], a humbling loss [Sunday], our guys stepped up and did a really good job of making sure they were ready,” manager Torey Lovullo said after the game.

“They were prepared to go out and execute a game plan. … It was one of those day games that you’re really looking for and coming out on the right side of it was really important. I’m proud of these guys for the fight they had.”

Though Padres starter Cal Quantrill got out of the first inning unscathed, with a Josh Rojas single being the lone hit, the visiting pitcher ran into a buzzsaw in the second inning.

Quantrill had little time to find any comfort on the mound as two two-pitch singles, courtesy of Christian Walker and Abraham Almonte, kicked off the bottom half of the inning for Arizona.

Nick Ahmed continued the quick hitting one pitch later with a single of his own, scoring Walker for the team’s first run of the day.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg for the D-backs in the frame as the scoring barrage pushed on.

Following an Alex Avila strikeout, up came D-backs starting pitcher Mike Leake.

Wasting little time, Leake swung at the first offering from Quantrill, grounding out but bringing in Almonte for the team’s second run of the afternoon.

And while the rapid fire would cease following Leake’s at-bat, the runs did not.

After the first five batters of the inning accounted for 11 pitches, Jarrod Dyson dug in against Quantrill, registering a walk after a seven-pitch at-bat.

A run still crossed the plate, however, as Quantrill’s final pitch to the outfielder found the backstop, allowing Ahmed to score from third base on the wild pitch.

Rojas continued to get the better of Quantrill. After recording Arizona’s first hit of the afternoon, Rojas doubled down, knocking in Dyson with an RBI double.

The first seven batters provided most of the runs, but it was Ketel Marte who threw the exclamation mark on the inning.

With two outs and a runner in scoring position, Marte worked the count full before launching a line-drive home run to right field. The dinger marked Marte’s first since Aug. 27, and his 29th on the year.

But all good things must come to end, as Eduardo Escobar popped out to end the inning.

The early assault marked the first time the team had scored one run or more in the first three innings since Aug. 26 (five games). Coming into Monday’s matchup, the D-backs had just three runs scored in the first two frames over their last seven outings.

“We haven’t hit the ground running after some tough losses,” Lovullo said of the offense. “Maybe there’s this little hangover effect where we’ve not played our best game right from pitch No. 1. That’s what I was asking for.”

The other six innings? That’s a whole different story.

Outside of Monday’s victory, the bats had been turning on late for Arizona, as the team scored 34 runs over innings four through nine.

And while they did manufacture more than enough runs in the opening innings, the D-backs once again found their hot streak midgame.

Opening up the fifth inning, Escobar got aboard with a leadoff single before Almonte added a single of his own two batters later, putting two on with one out for catcher Avila.

Avila, who hadn’t recorded a hit or RBI over his last four games (16 plate appearances), got out of his funk, scoring both runners with a two-run double. He also added a single, going 2-for-4 on the day.

That would do it for Quantrill, who allowed eight runs on 10 hits in 5.0 innings.

The pitching change didn’t faze Arizona’s hitters, however. If anything, it woke them up even more.

The scoring started with Rojas, who unleashed a solo shot to right field.

And it didn’t end there.

Following a Marte groundout, the combination of Escobar and Walker proved deadly for reliever Javy Guerra.

Needing a total of seven pitches between the two, the duo found the stands, roping back-to-back jacks to bring the score to a lopsided 11-4 lead. Ahmed would add to the tally two batters later with an RBI single following an Almonte double.

Rojas, who started in left field Monday, had the hot hand throughout the game, going 4-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored.

“It was a lot of fun,” Rojas said. “I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable at the plate, sticking with the approach and getting the right pitches so it’s been really fun.”

Marte would add another two runs to Arizona’s total in the seventh, bringing in Caleb Joseph and Rojas with the two-run double.

Marte led the team in RBIs (4), going 2-for-5 with a run scored.

With Monday’s victory, the D-backs have now won seven of their eight games, sitting at four games over .500.

The win also signifies Leake’s 11th win of the season and second as a member of the Diamondbacks, as the pitcher went 6.1 innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits.

“I felt good, similar to my last outing,” Leake said. “Not quite as pinpoint but able to make the pitches necessary.”

He’s now 2-2 as an Arizona starter and 11-10 overall this season.

“[The win] was all set up by Mike Leake,” Lovullo said of the pitcher. “I think he set a very aggressive tone for us. He got outs, quick outs, and allowed us to get back into the dugout and bang the ball around.”

Up next, the D-backs turn to starter Merrill Kelly in the second game of the four-game series.

First pitch is slated for 6:40 p.m. Catch all the action live on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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