ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Hellickson’s outing ends impressive streak by D-backs starting pitchers

Apr 27, 2015, 3:41 AM | Updated: 3:41 am

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Jeremy Hellickson’s performance wasn’t atrocious Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it definitely wasn’t up to recent level of mastery put forth by the Arizona Diamondbacks’ starting rotation.

Coming into the game, Arizona’s staff had strung together nine straight quality starts, the longest such streak since the longest since an 11-game stretch from Sept. 12-22, 2008, when high-profile pitchers such as Brandon Webb, Randy Johnson and Dan Haren were on the team.

Hellickson gave up four earned runs and seven hits in 4.2 innings during the series finale against Pittsburgh, but he was responsible for one of the quality starts during the recent streak: He went 6.2 innings in San Francisco on April 19 and only allowed one earned run on eight hits.

Second-year right-hander Chase Anderson kicked off the quality starts streak on April 15 by going six innings with eight hits and two earned runs allowed in San Diego. All five Diamondbacks starters — including Josh Collmenter, Archie Bradley and Rubby De La Rosa — contributed to the streak, which is highlighted by Collmenter’s complete-game shutout against the Giants on April 17, the first in the majors this season.

In total, Diamondbacks starters went 61 innings while allowing only 14 earned runs during the nine-game stretch, good for a collective ERA of 2.07.

“I think they build off one another,” catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, who started in all but two of those nine games, said Saturday. “I think that they see each other doing well and it gives them all confidence.

“We do have a good lineup; I think that gives the starters confidence. I think they’re just continuing to get better and grow as a staff.”

Overall, the pitching staff has produced 11 quality starts this season, which was third in baseball heading as of Sunday morning.

As masterful as the starting staff was during the nine-game streak, the D-backs’ offense couldn’t follow suit, and only four of those quality starts were converted into a win. The team only averaged 3.8 runs per game during that stretch, and that’s with a nine-run outburst in San Francisco on April 17 and an eight-run performance last Wednesday against Texas. Diamondbacks batters produced exactly one run in four of those games.

“Of course, we have to do better offensively,” manager Chip Hale said after Sunday’s loss. “We had good game plans [against Pittsburgh]; I can tell you that. We just couldn’t execute it.”

Hale cited batters “swinging at balls in the dirt” as a reason for the lack of success on offense in Arizona’s latest loss, but first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said the team won’t be fazed by being swept at home by the Pirates over the weekend.

“It’s not the first time we’ve lost; it’s not the first time we’ve been swept,” the two-time All-Star said. “So, I mean guys are going to show up [Monday vs. Colorado]; it’s not going to make any difference. We’re going to come out and play hard, and hopefully get a win.”

After suffering their first sweep of the year, the Diamondbacks (8-10) will stay home to host the Rockies (10-8) for a three-game series. If the Arizona offense is looking for a turnaround, the Rockies may just be the team to do it against, as they’ve allowed the most runs (80) of any team in the NL West this season.

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