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Diamondbacks can’t fend off hot San Diego Padres’ bats, split series

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 28: Wyatt Mathisen #27 of the Arizona Diamondbacks rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run off of Aaron Northcraft #43 of the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning at Chase Field on April 28, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks were lit up by the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night, falling 12-3 to split the two-game series.

Riley Smith held it down on the mound in his second career start, this time in place of Taylor Widener who was placed on the 10-day IL after suffering a groin strain. Smith allowed just four hits through the first four innings.

“Just needed to make a few better pitches and keep the ball down in the bottom of the zone,” Smith said via Zoom. “Kind of ran over the heart of the zone and they took advantage of the pitches I didn’t make.”

However, the Padres offense came alive in the fifth inning to run away with the game. After San Diego scored two on a single and fielding error to tie up the game, Smith was relieved by J.B. Bukauskas.

Bukauskas couldn’t quiet the Padres either, giving up three earned runs of his own to bring the score to 6-1 after Manny Machado hit a bases-clearing RBI triple. Lefty Alex Young was able to get all three outs to close out the inning.

“What happened in the fifth happened fast,” manager Torey Lovullo said postgame via Zoom. “We were trying to bridge a gap to the backend of the bullpen and were trying to matchup the best way we could and we just got clipped.”

San Diego added more insurance to its lead with three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth.

Third baseman Asdrubal Cabrera made his first pitching appearance to finish out the night on the mound for the D-backs.

The game looked to be going the D-backs’ way in the early innings. Arizona was first to get on the board through a Nick Ahmed RBI double in the second and a Wyatt Mathisen home run in the fourth. It was Mathisen’s first home run of the season and third career homer overall.

Ahmed kept the D-backs in the game by bringing in another run in the sixth. The shortstop went 2-for-3 on the night.

“I felt like we did enough to put ourselves in a position to win this game. It was just that quick hitting fifth that did us in,” Lovullo said.

“We’ve got to spit this one out and be ready to go tomorrow,” he added.

On the defensive side, outfielder Josh Rojas made the play of the game in the eighth against the red hot Fernando Tatis Jr. Rojas made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Tatis of a home run, meanwhile limiting the damage the Padres did in the eighth inning.

“For those of us that think that’s an easy play, I tempt people to go out and try to jump up and try to pull down something from an eight and a half foot wall,” Lovullo said.

“It’s not easy and he made it look easy. It was a great play, gave us a little boost in the dugout.”

Arizona has been plagued by injuries to its starters in a short span. On Wednesday, Kole Calhoun joined teammates Ketel Marte, Christian Walker and Tim Locastro on the injured list.

Lovullo acknowledged pregame that the recent amount of injuries has definitely hurt, but with a next man up mentality, it will ultimately make the team stronger down the stretch.

“I just think its just the nature of whats happened between last year’s 60-game season, ramping up twice … We’re going to try to figure out how to make players perform at a very high level without being injured, we’re always on the search for that,” the manager said. “But the one thing that stands out to me through this equation is every team faces it, every team has to deal with it.

“It’s the ones that can be resilient and bend without breaking and have those understudies come in there and accept their responsibilities and their challenges and fit in as quickly as possible to help us win baseball games.”

Luke Weaver will take the mound Thursday when the Diamondbacks host the Colorado Rockies for the first matchup of a four-game series.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. Listen live on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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