ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks drop series after Orioles get to Zac Gallen early

Sep 3, 2023, 6:32 PM

Zac Gallen...

Zac Gallen #23 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a first-inning pitch against the Baltimore Orioles at Chase Field on September 03, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — A difficult week in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ schedule came to a disjointed end on Sunday as the American League-best Baltimore Orioles picked up an 8-5 win at Chase Field.

The D-backs (70-67) have dropped five of six games against Baltimore (85-51) and the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing seven or more runs in all five defeats.

Ace Zac Gallen took the ball after allowing six runs on Monday in Los Angeles, and the Orioles pieced together four runs on six hits against him in the first two innings. Each knock was a single in a classic case of hitting it where they ain’t.

Gallen retired 10 of the 12 batters until the sixth inning, when he was pulled with one out and a runner on third. The score was tied 4-4, but that was when the game got away.

Kyle Nelson entered and allowed a sharp grounder that kicked off second baseman Ketel Marte’s glove with the infield in.

That started a rally of four straight hits, and Baltimore led 8-4 by the end of the frame.

Solo home runs by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Corbin Carroll cut into the Orioles lead early, and Carroll scored on a wild pitch in the fifth inning to tie the game. But the D-backs struggled to string together at-bats after falling behind again.

With the loss, the D-backs found themselves in a virtual four-way tie for the third and final National League Wild Card spot with the San Francisco Giants (70-67), Miami Marlins (70-67) and Cincinnati Reds (71-68).

“I think everybody’s locked in on it,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I will make comments up here about just embracing this opportunity and going out and playing our game our way and focusing on our dugout. You’ve earned the right to go out there and look at the scoreboard. You should come into this ballpark every day full of energy and focus to go out and win a baseball game and realizing how important every day is.”

Zac Gallen’s grind

Gallen has allowed 11 earned runs in his last two starts, his most in a two-game stretch since 2020.

Six of the first seven balls in play against him were hits to pair with four strikeouts. He said his feel wasn’t at its peak going in, so he had to lock in and fight to make pitches.

“I thought he actually had good stuff,” Lovullo said. “I feel like they got to that point in the count, the Orioles did a good job of that throughout the series, they kind of made you work through that critical at-bat.

“I think they just waited Zac out and got the right pitch and got some extension on him. I don’t necessarily think there was a lot of hard contact. I think some balls got hit in the right place at the right time.”

Lovullo pulled Gallen at 99 pitches.

The D-backs are now 16-13 in games Gallen has pitched this season.

Christian Walker’s milestone

First baseman Christian Walker belted a solo home run in the ninth inning off All-Star Yennier Cano.

It was Walker’s 30th home run of the year, as he became the fifth D-backs player with multiple 30-homer campaigns. The others are Luis Gonzalez, Paul Goldschmidt, Mark Reynolds and Steve Finley.

“As a guy who challenged myself to be a certain type of hitter every day and bring a certain product to the yard every night, that’s an important number,” Walker said. “But it is just a number. A lot of games left, a lot of opportunities, a lot on the table.”

Walker exited Saturday’s game with a right elbow contusion after a hit-by-pitch and did not start on Sunday. He pinch hit in the sixth inning and flew out deep to center in his first at-bat.

“A little soreness today, grip strength was a little weak,” Walker said. “But overall, it’s much better than yesterday.”

Tommy Pham scratched

The D-backs scratched designated hitter Tommy Pham with a bruised right pinky before the game. Pham said he slammed his bat on the bat rack after striking out on Saturday, but his X-rays were negative.

Lovullo called him day-to-day.

Diamondbacks-Rockies next

The D-backs host the Colorado Rockies for three games starting Monday at 1:10 p.m.

Merrill Kelly is probable to pitch Monday, with Brandon Pfaadt on Tuesday and Zach Davies on Wednesday.

Catch Monday’s game on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.

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