PHOENIX — OK, so now it’s two starts.
Hoping to bounce back from a poor Opening Day showing, Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke again struggled.
And it was from the get-go.
Greinke was tagged for three first-inning runs and four overall as the D-backs fell to the Cubs, 4-2, in front of an announced crowd of 32,185 at Chase Field on Saturday.
Ben Zobrist, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Miguel Montero each had RBI.
Rizzo, Bryant and Montero recorded theirs on consecutive at-bats in the first inning off Greinke (0-2), who after allowing seven runs to Colorado on Monday has now given up four or more runs in back-to-back starts for the first time since June 27 and July 3 of 2013.
Greinke went six innings, retiring the last seven batters faced. He scattered seven hits, walked three and struck out eight; the latter two marks were season-highs.
The outing was unexpected, as was his D-backs debut.
Greinke entered the day having allowed just one earned run in 26.2 IP (0.34 ERA) in his previous four starts following a loss.
Through two starts here in 2016, Greinke is sporting a 9.90 ERA.
Meanwhile, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks won his season debut, recording a quality start, his fourth in a row dating back to last season.
He blanked the D-backs through the first three innings before allowing a run in the fourth and another in the seventh.
Overall, Hendricks pitched 6.2 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
D-backs infielder Brandon Drury accounted for two of the four hits, including an RBI double.
The D-backs have lost four of six to begin the season.
It took three innings but the D-backs, the National League’s fourth-best hitting team (.288 at the start of the day), finally recorded their first hit—heck, their first base runner—when Drury lined a leadoff-single to left field. For Drury, who made his first start of the season at third base, it was his second hit of 2016. He finished the game 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The second time through the order proved to be much better for Greinke. Of the nine batters faced, he struck out five, including four of the last five. Dexter Fowler, Bryant, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell all went down swinging, while Hendricks froze on an 88-mph slider and was rung up by home plate umpire Eric Cooper to begin the fourth inning.
Tough start for Greinke, who after retiring Fowler to lead off the game allowed four straight hits — three singles and one double, all struck very well. Jason Heyward, Zobrist and Rizzo each singled; Rizzo did so on an 88-mph change-up well out of the strike zone by reaching down and hitting into center field for an RBI. Bryant followed with a run-scoring double and Montero added a sacrifice fly to close out the damage of what was a three-run, 24-pitch first inning.
After scoreless second and third innings, Greinke surrendered a run in the fourth. With two outs, Zobrist smashed a 1-1 fastball over the head of Owings that reached the center field wall on one hop. Fowler, who had coaxed a six-pitch walk, scored easily from first while Zobrist cruised into second for a stand-up double, his second of the season and second hit of the game. Greinke threw 27 pitches in the inning, one fewer than the previous two frames combined.
STAT OF THE GAME
11: The number of runs allowed by Greinke through two starts; a number he did not reach until start No. 11 last season.
HE SAID IT
“Just too many mistakes,” Greinke said. “Getting hit hard early and then I started pitching better later but just not good enough so far. I got to start pitching better from here on out.”
– Chris Owings, who scored the D-backs first run on a wild pitch, has reached base safely in four of five games.
– Rubby De La Rosa, who got the start in the series opener, made his first relief appearance since Sept. 27, 2014. His relief appearance came in place of a bullpen day.
– Randy Johnson won the D-backs Legends Race for the 145th time, second-most behind Luis Gonzalez (157).
– The game was played with both the roof and panels open, allowing fans to enjoy 82-degree temperatures.
– The D-backs uniform combination, the fourth different one this season: black alternate with black gradient “A” cap.
It’s the second start in the D-backs career of right-hander Shelby Miller.
He’ll take the mound in the series finale against fellow right-hander Jake Arrieta on Sunday, April 10. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 with pregame coverage beginning 40 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Miller (0-0, 9.00) took a no-decision in his debut on Tuesday, allowing six runs in six innings against the Rockies.
Acquired from Atlanta in the offseason, Miller is 1-2 with a 2.83 ERA in seven games, including six starts, lifetime facing the Cubs.
Meanwhile, Arrieta (1-0, 0.00) looks to continue where he left off on Opening Day, when he tossed seven-scoreless frames at the Angels, which extended his career-long scoreless innings streak to 29.0 innings, tied for the sixth-longest stretch by a Cubs pitcher since 1900.
Arrieta, who has recorded 12-consecutive wins dating to August 4 of last season, has gone 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA in three career starts against the D-backs.
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