D-backs’ timely hitting, bullpen holds off Cubs in narrow win
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks got a stellar performance from their bullpen in a 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field on Friday night.
D-backs relievers combined for 3.1 scoreless innings while only allowing four baserunners on one hit, two walks and an error, with the last three to reach base for the Cubs coming in the eighth inning.
Fresh off his best start of the season thus far, D-backs starter and former Cub Zach Davies was once again impressive other than one blemished inning. The right-hander finished just one out shy of a quality start, but he was still highly effective in his 5.2 innings pitched, only allowing three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six on 92 pitches (54 strikes).
“It’s solid starting pitching, turned it over to the bullpen,” manager Torey Lovullo said postgame. “We executed on the mound outside of that three-run inning. I just think Zach made a couple mistakes and ended up righting the ship, made some quality adjustments mid-game and started to get into a good rhythm.”
Arizona had few problems at the plate on Friday night, as the team was able to garner 12 hits off Cubs pitching — 10 of which were against Chicago starting pitcher Drew Smyly. However, the D-backs were only able to get four of those runners across to score, as the team left a total of nine runners on base and while going 3-for-13 (.231) with runners in scoring position.
After a quick first six outs to start the game — including striking out the Cubs’ 4-5-6 hitters — Davies ran into the only trouble he faced all night in the top of the third inning. Chicago’s Jason Heyward doubled to lead off the inning, followed by a Jonathan Villar bunt single, a two-run triple from former Diamondback Ildemaro Vargas and an RBI sac-fly from Rafael Ortega to cap off the three-run frame.
“Kind of off today, felt like there were at-bats where I got ahead and was able to put guys away and some at-bats got behind and had to battle those,” Davies said postgame. “That third inning, gave up a few runs, gave up a few hard hits in the gaps.
“A mistake on the bunt on my part — that probably limits the damage a lot more than what happened if I make that play and just worry about one runner on base instead of multiple guys. But overall I was happy to get over that inning and pitch into the sixth inning and try to get through that sixth.”
The D-backs immediately responded in the bottom half of the third frame with some timely hitting. With Cooper Hummel on third and two outs, Ketel Marte, Christian Walker and Pavin Smith all rattled off RBI hits to tie the game at 3-3.
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“The thing that stood out the most to me offensively today is how we answered the three runs. I think this team has a great heartbeat,” Lovullo said. “There’s limited panic, they just stay with the process, stay with their prep and get very focused. We answered back.
“I think the most powerful inning in baseball is the inning after you score. Shutdown innings are crucial and we did a good job of not allowing that and got us right back into the game — I thought it made a good statement. But it was some timely hitting, good approaches all day long, a number of base hits. I think Pavin had the big blow, it was a key hit in that inning that put us in a really good position to tie the score.”
Arizona took the lead on its next turn at the plate thanks to some impressive baserunning from Josh Rojas. The D-backs third baseman led off the fourth inning with a walk, stole second base, advanced to third on a Geraldo Perdomo single and scored on a wild pitch to give the Diamondbacks a 4-3 lead.
The bullpen picked up right where Davies left off, as Kyle Nelson, Ian Kennedy and Mark Melancon combined for 3.1 scoreless innings, with Nelson and Kennedy both getting holds while Melancon picked up his seventh save of the year.
Both Marte and Perdomo went 3-for-4 with three hits. Marte had two doubles, a single and an RBI, while Perdomo had three singles.
The D-backs host the Cubs in the second of the three-game series on Saturday at 5:10 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
Arizona’s RHP Zac Gallen is scheduled to start against Chicago RHP Kyle Hendricks.