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Sedona Red Recap: Fine-tuned Rubby De La Rosa cruises as D-backs beat Pirates

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Rubby De La Rosa throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, April 23, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — The Rubby De La Rosa on display Saturday night was not the Rubby De La Rosa the Arizona Diamondbacks had seen in his first two starts to begin the season.

You remember the one that was charged with a combined eight runs and 11 hits.

No, this Rubby De La Rosa worked at a better tempo, pitched more efficiently and perhaps more importantly, gave the D-backs a chance to win.

And they did, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-1 in front of an announced crowd of 32,935 at Chase Field to even the three-game weekend series at a game apiece.

De La Rosa, who made two relief appearances since his last start on April 13, went six innings allowing one run—a home run to Sean Rodriguez—on three hits with a walk and six strikeouts. He also hit two batters.

De La Rosa (2-3) pitched out of trouble in the first, gave up the Rodriguez homer in the second and then settled in, when over the next four innings only three base runners reached safely.

During one stretch, De La Rosa retired nine straight.

The bullpen closed the game with three scoreless innings.

Offensively, Chris Herrmann led the D-backs’ seven-hit attack with a double and three-run home run, the latter of which was part of a five-run eighth inning.

Making just his sixth start behind the plate, Herrmann tied a career-high with four RBI, snapping an 0-for-10 spell with a run-scoring double in the second inning. He also threw out a runner trying to steal second base.

The D-backs ended the Pirates’ modest two-game winning streak, pinning the loss on starter Juan Nicasio (2-2), who was done after five innings and charged with two runs on three hits with four walks and four strikeouts.

In winning for the sixth time in their last seven games, the D-backs improved to 10-9.

THE GOOD

Only seven pitches into the game, De La Rosa found himself in a two-on and no-out jam. However, he escaped trouble by retiring the next three batters, including a strikeout of Starling Marte on an 88-mph slider. The inning began with John Jaso extending his hitting streak to 12 straight games with a double past a sliding Chris Owings in right-center field and Andrew McCutchen getting plunked on his left thigh by a 93-mph fastball; the two were stranded at second and third base, respectively.

Making the most of just his sixth start behind the plate this season, Herrmann tied the game at 1 in the second inning, ripping a 1-2 fastball into right field for a double to score Nick Ahmed, who opened the frame with a walk, all the way from first. For Herrmann, it was his first RBI of the season and just his second hit, both two-baggers. By the way, the Ahmed at-bat was an impressive one. He fell behind in the count 0-2 only to make his way to first seven pitches later.

After striking out on three pitches in the first inning, David Peralta redeemed himself in the third with a two-out solo home run to right field to hand the D-backs their first lead of the game, 2-1. It was a 92-mph fastball that Nicasio tried to sneak by Peralta on a 3-2 count. For Peralta, who has now reached base safely in 14 straight starts and 18 of 19 games this season, it marked just the second time in his career that he homered in back-to-back games (also: Aug. 18-19, 2014).

It began with a Paul Goldschmidt leadoff base hit and ended with a Jean Segura strikeout. In between, the D-backs scored five times, sending eight men to the plate in the eighth inning to break the game open. Herrmann drove in three with a three-run home run, depositing a 1-2 pitch deep into the seats in right field off former D-back A.J. Schugel. Ahmed added an RBI single, while Yasmany Tomas, who extended his hitting streak to nine straight games, scored on a Pirates fielding error.

THE BAD

That’s now three home runs in his last 12 plate appearances for Rodriguez, who lifted a 3-2 fastball just over the fence in right field for the Pirates first run and a 1-0 lead in the second inning. De La Rosa’s offering, which clocked in at 96-mph, got too much of the plate and Rodriguez made him pay. It was the only run allowed by De La Rosa through the first three innings. Overall, Rodriguez, making his first start at shortstop, has now reached base safely 13 times in his first 21 plate appearances to start the season.

Four times in the first three innings, D-backs batters struck out on just three pitches and three of those hitters went down looking. All of them — Jake Lamb in the first, Owings in the second and Goldschmidt in the third — were frozen by fastballs. Both Owings and Goldschmidt were unable to take the bat off their shoulders to catch up with 93-mph worth of heat. For Goldschmidt, it was his 19th strikeout of the season, easily the most on the team and an average of one per game as he’s now hitting .246 this year.

STAT OF THE GAME

6: The number of innings pitched and strikeouts recorded by De La Rosa, both season highs

HE SAID IT

“Everything,” De La Rosa said when asked what was working for him against the Pirates. “Fastball command was great. My breaking ball was good, also. The key today was attack — faster with my fastball.”

NOTED

– De La Rosa recorded his fifth career start of at least six innings pitched and three hits or fewer allowed.

– Goldschmidt, who went 1-for-2 with two walks, has reached base safely in 10 of his last 11 games.

– Segura, who went 1-for-4 with a strikeout, extended his hitting streak against the Pirates to 11 straight games.

– The D-backs improved to 1-1 when wearing their black alternate uniforms with solid black ‘A’ cap.

– The game began with the roof closed and then opened an hour later at the start of the fourth inning.

– Zack Greinke accepted the Players Choice Award as the 2015 NL Outstanding Pitcher in a pregame ceremony.

– ABC-15’s Dan Spindle, who co-anchors mornings from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., sang the National Anthem.

– The first 20,000 fans received the A.J. Pollock bobblehead, the first of four such giveaways this season.

UP NEXT

The series concludes with a pair of left-handers on the mound.

Robbie Ray and Francisco Liriano are scheduled on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 40 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

Ray (1-0, 1.96) has been the best D-backs starter thus far, allowing two runs or fewer in each of his four starts. He’s coming off a six-inning, five-hit shutout performance at San Francisco in which he earned the win, his first of the season.

More importantly in that outing, Ray issued only two free passes. He’s walked 11 in 18.1 innings.

This will be Ray’s third career start against the Pirates.

Meanwhile, Liriano (1-1, 4.11) was unable to complete five innings the last time he took the mound, allowing four runs on six hits with four walks in a loss at San Diego, this after he missed a scheduled start due to right hamstring discomfort.

Liriano, the Pirates’ Opening Day starter, is 1-0 with a 3.20 ERA (7 ER, 25.1 IP) in four career starts against the D-backs.

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