PHOENIX — Sure it was an improvement on the mound and defensively from the night before, but offensively, the Arizona Diamondbacks stalled for the second straight game, handcuffed by the Kansas City Royals in a 4-3 defeat.
Oh, the D-backs had their chances, but never delivered the big hit.
Rather, it was Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas who consistenly came through in the clutch, hitting a two-run home run in the second, an RBI single in the fourth and a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the eighth that proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
The D-backs outhit the Royals, 12-5, but only two of the hits came with runners in scoring position.
“We had many opportunities,” said manager Kirk Gibson, noting their 2-for-14 effort with men on base. “It’s a game we should’ve done better, a more productive job of taking care of our opportunities. I guess you want to give the Royals some credit, but at the same time, we have to have better at-bats in those opportunities.”
Starter Josh Collmenter (8-6) was saddled with the loss, despite a six-inning effort in which he allowed three runs on only three hits with two walks and a season-high tying six strikeouts. It was his third quality start in his last five trips on the mound.
“All of their runs were with two outs and were easily (possible) to keep off the board, so that one is all on me,” he said.
Meanwhile, the D-backs could do nothing against Yordano Ventura (9-8), who won his second straight decision. He allowed two runs — on Aaron Hill and David Peralta RBI singles — scattering eight hits over six innings.
The Royals have won six of seven and 11 of 14, while the D-backs have dropped two in a row and four of five.
Cliff Pennington wasted little time in re-introducing himself. Activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game, he singled on a soft line drive to center in his very first at-bat. It was his first appearance since June 1 against the Reds, after which he was sidelined by a sprained left thumb.
With his leadoff triple in the third inning, the first of his career, Ender Inciarte has reached base safely in 16 of his last 17 home games (.333, 21-for-63). He finished 1-for-5 and is now hitting .353 (12-for-34) against right-handed pitching at home since June 24.
With one out in the third, Hill ripped a 2-0 fastball to center to drive in the D-backs first run of the game. It was his 1300th career hit, and the team’s first with runners in scoring position, having gone hitless in their previous six such at-bats.
All Peralta does is hit, and he hits well. His two-strike, two-out line drive single to center tied the game at 2 in the the third inning. Peralta went 2-for-4, his 23rd multi-hit effort, and is now batting .340 (17-for-50) in his last 14 home games.
Miguel Montero legged out his 12th infield hit — a ground ball to shortstop — to open the eighth inning. It was his third hit, all of which went to the opposite field, including a leadoff double in the second, the seventh time he’s had three hits in a game this season.
Evan Marshall relieved Collmenter and did not allow a run over two innings of work, including a 1-2-3 eighth. He has now recorded a scoreless appearance in 13 of his last 15 appearances (3 ER in 13.0 IP).
The two-out, two-run home run by Moustakas in the second inning was the fifth homer allowed by Collmenter over his past four starts, a span of 17 innings. Prior to that, he had not surrendered a long ball in five straight appearances, totaling 24.1 innings. Collmenter has given up the second-most home runs (15) among D-backs pitchers.
Two innings later, Moustakas, again, touched up Collmenter, and, again, he did so with two outs. He lined a base hit — his third in his last four at-bats against the D-backs — to right, plating the go-ahead run to, again, give the Royals the lead, 3-2.
D-backs hitters struck out 11 times, the second straight game they reached double digits in Ks. Every starter, with the exception of Inciarte and Peralta, fanned at least once. Hill and Roger Kieschnick each whiffed twice.
STAT OF THE GAME
2: The number of D-backs hits in 14 chances with runners in scoring position
HE SAID IT
“You could tell he didn’t get (all of) it,” Gibson said of Mark Trumbo’s ninth-inning sacrifice fly, “but I was thinking it would be a good time to do it. We were hoping.”
• The game was played before a season-low 16,157 fans at Chase Field
• The D-backs have been outscored 35-15, losing four of five games to start August
• Pennington started at third base for the first time since June 27, 2013 and for only the 11th time in his career
• Peralta’s 23 mult-hit efforts through 53 games to start his career are the most by a D-back since Matt Kata in 2003 (20 games)
• Collmenter owns a 2.61 ERA (15 ER in 51.2 IP) in his last eight starts at Chase Field, allowing three earned runs or less in each start
• Daniel Hudson (second Tommy John surgery), according to Gibson, will make his second rehab appearance with Rookie AZL D-backs on Saturday
Vidal Nuno will once again try to earn his first victory in a D-backs uniform. This will be his sixth attempt as he gets the call in the series finale on Thursday, Aug. 7. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Nuno (0-2, 3.07), acquired from the Yankees on July 6 in exchange for Brandon McCarthy and cash considerations, did not factor in the decision his last time out against the Pirates, allowing one run over six innings. He has never faced Kansas City.
The Royals, meanwhile, counter with right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (7-9, 4.50), who has won back-to-back starts. His only other matchup against the D-backs came two years ago, while with the Rockies, when he allowed seven runs over 3.1 innings in a 10-0 loss at Chase Field on June 5, 2012.