Good pitching, timely hitting and solid defense: Nine times out of 10, that’s going to add up to a victory.
It did on Friday for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Behind starter Jeremy Hellickson, hitters A.J. Pollock, Paul Goldschmidt and Yasmany Tomas — plus Tomas manning the outfield for the first time all season — the D-backs beat the New York Mets 7-2 in front of an announced crowd of 24,332.
Hellickson (4-3) won his third straight start with his fourth straight quality outing, allowing two runs on six hits with three walks and a season-high-tying six strikeouts in six innings.
Pollock went 3-for-4 with two RBI, while Goldschmidt drove in the game-tying run and Tomas knocked home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.
Two innings later, the D-backs broke the game open with a four-run eighth.
Hellickson battled early, giving up a run in both the second and fourth innings.
The damage could’ve been much worse in the fourth if it weren’t for Tomas’ glove work in right field. With two on and one out, he made a running catch near the line to likely rob Anthony Recker of extra bases and perhaps a couple of RBI.
After that play, Hellickson retired seven of the final nine batters he faced, including four via strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Mets starter Jonathan Niese (3-6) lost for the fourth time in five starts, charged with three runs on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts in six innings.
He had retired eight in a row before Pollock, Goldschmidt and Tomas all reached base safely with consecutive hits — a double, single and double, respectively — to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 advantage.
The D-backs are 11-7 in their last 18 games.
With a leadoff single to center field to begin the second inning, Tomas now has hit in four straight games (.500, 8-for-16) and 17 of his last 20 games at a .383 clip (31-for-81) with seven doubles, one home run and 14 RBI.
Two batters later in the second, Chris Owings extended his career-high hitting streak to nine games, batting .306 (11-for-36) in that span, grounding a ball to left field. He went 1-for-3 with a strikeout and sacrifice fly.
It was Pollock’s turn in the third inning. He hit a comebacker off Niese’s glove to score Nick Ahmed from third — the D-backs’ major league-leading 110th two-out RBI — and tie the game at 1-1. Two more hits, including an eighth-inning double that added an insurance run, and Pollock now has hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games at a .429 clip (30-for-70) with seven doubles, two triples, four home runs, 12 RBI and 17 runs scored.
Making his first major league start in the outfield, Tomas recorded his first putout in right field, running towards the line and reaching out to snag Recker’s line drive, saving at least one run with two on and one out in the fourth inning. And, as luck would have it, that would be Tomas’ only fielding opportunity.
Why a team would pitch to Goldschmidt with a runner on second and first base open defies logic, yet that’s the path the Mets chose in the sixth inning and it cost them. Goldschmidt lined a single to center to plate Pollock with the tying run. Then, on the very next pitch, Tomas doubled down the left field line, scoring Goldschmidt all the way from first to give the D-backs their first lead of the game, 3-2. Goldschmidt, it should be noted, is hitting .483 (14-for-32) with eight RBI in his last nine games.
A clean, 17-pitch seventh inning for Andrew Chafin: He retired the Mets in order with two groundouts sandwiched around a fly out to center field. Chafin now has held opponents scoreless in seven straight relief appearances (8.2 innings pitched) and in 13 of his last 14 (2.12 ERA, four ER in 17.0 IP).
Pitching in back-to-back games and for the third time in four days, Daniel Hudson went 1-2-3 in the eighth inning, striking out Lucas Duda on a 97 mph fastball and Michael Cuddyer on an 85 mph changeup before getting Wilmer Flores to fly out. Hudson now has held opponents scoreless in eight of his last nine relief appearances with 14 strikeouts
Keeping the ball in the ballpark has been somewhat of an issue for Hellickson lately. He surrendered his eighth since May 2 on an 0-2 pitch to Cuddyer to lead off the second inning and give the Mets a 1-0 lead. For Hellickson, he has allowed nine home runs this season, tied with Josh Collmenter for second most on the team. Meanwhile, for Cuddyer, it was his third home run during what is now a 10-game hitting streak.
The second Mets run scored in the fourth inning. With runners on the corners and one out, Eric Campbell singled sharply up the middle to drive in the go-ahead run, 2-1. The base hit snapped an 0-for-28 drought for Campbell, a slump that included 12 strikeouts.
In his first start behind the plate for the D-backs, Welington Castillo went 0-for-4, striking out in all four at-bats in what is referred to as the golden sombrero. He was acquired from Seattle as part of the Mark Trumbo trade three days ago.
STAT OF THE GAME
3: The D-backs improved to 3-0 with the roof closed; they are 3-17 when trailing after five innings this season and, oh, and Pollock had three hits, his fifth three-hit game of the year.
HE SAID IT
“Command has definitley been a big part of it,” Hellickson said, referring to his four-start run in which he’s 3-0. “I’m just not making as many mistakes with the fastball as I was earlier in the year. When I do miss, it’s down, and I just think command of all three pitches is a lot better.”
Hellickson last recorded four straight games with six or more innings pitched in 2013, when from June 19 to July 10 he had five straight such outings.
Hellickson opened with a six-pitch first inning and closed with an eight-pitch sixth inning, but in between threw 17, 23, 29 and 21 pitches — all of which added up to 104 total pitches.
Ahmed’s steal of third in the third inning was the D-backs’ 50th stolen base of the season, second only to Cincinnati (54) in all of baseball.
Pollock and Goldschmidt recorded stolen bases of their own in the eighth inning, which for Pollock was his career-high-tying 14th of the season.
Tuffy Gosewisch underwent surgery — performed by team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gary Waslewski — to repair his torn ACL in his left knee this afternoon.
Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was in attendance, sitting in the front row behind the D-backs on-deck circle.
Coming off his worst performance of the season, right-hander Chase Anderson gets the ball in game three of the four-game series on Saturday, June 6.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Anderson (1-1) allowed six runs on 10 hits in five innings, but did not figure into the decision during the 7-6 loss at Milwaukee on May 31.
Aside from that effort, Anderson had a stellar month, posting a 1.39 ERA (five ER in 32.1 IP) in five starts. He’s been nearly as good at home this season with 10 earned runs in 24.1 IP for a 3.70 ERA in four outings.
Anderson will be making his first career start against the Mets, who counter with right-hander Bartolo Colon, tied with Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, St. Louis’ Michael Wacha and Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole for the major league lead in wins with eight.
Colon (8-3) is on a two-start winning streak with victories over Philadelphia and Miami.
In 68.2 total innings, he’s walked only five batters and struck out 54.
Now in his 18th season, Colon has made only one other start against the D-backs, in 2006 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels.