Skaggs struggles as D-backs drop series finale with Giants

PHOENIX (AP) — The stage was set for a terrific weekend for the Diamondbacks.

Big crowds showed up at Chase Field to cheer on the first-place team, but the Giants spoiled the party.

Starting pitching was a problem again on Sunday for the D-backs, as Tyler Skaggs struggled in a 6-2 loss. Arizona dropped the last two games of the series, being outscored 16-7 in the process.

“Our starters have been giving up a lot of runs, which puts a big strain on the bullpen,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “They are exhausted down there, and it kind of has an effect on the players, and they haven’t been as sharp lately.”

Skaggs (1-1) allowed five runs, including solo homers by Marco Scutaro and Brandon Belt, on eight hits in five innings.

“The first inning, I struggled a little bit,” he said. “I felt like I kind of locked in after that but it is a tough game and was one of those games when keeping the ball up you are going to get hit.”

The loss sliced the Diamondbacks’ lead in the NL West to 1 1/2 games over the Giants and Rockies. The series marked the only three home games in a stretch of 17 contests for the D-backs.

Arizona has a better record on the road (18-14) than it does at home (17-14).

“It is just the way it is working out for us now,” Gibson said. “It has been a grind, and things aren’t really going our way.”

Chad Gaudin, meanwhile, shrugged off an aching stomach and threw six strong innings for the Giants in his second straight strong start.

Not that he felt great doing it.

“This came on like right at the start,” Gaudin said. “I thought maybe it was nerves in the beginning, but it wasn’t. It just kind of lingered on during the whole game. So I just had to battle it and get it through.”

San Francisco, 5-1 at Chase Field this season, won the last two games of the series by a combined score of 16-7 after losing the opener 3-1 on a late homer by Paul Goldschmidt.

The Giants got to Skaggs early Sunday, tallying four singles and a walk before he recorded an out. San Francisco opened the game with singles by Andres Torres, Scutaro and Buster Posey to make it 1-0. Hunter Pence walked, and Joaquin Arias’ RBI single put the Giants up 2-0.

Gaudin retired the first eight batters before Cliff Pennington’s one-out single in the third. Skaggs reached when Gaudin bobbled his sacrifice bunt attempt, then threw wide to first, but Gerardo Parra flied out to center and Didi Gregorius struck out to end the threat.

Scutaro’s solo shot high off the foul pole in left for his second home run of the year put San Francisco up 4-0 in the fourth.

Arizona broke through with two runs in the fourth. Miguel Montero singled with one out, and after Martin Prado was called out on strikes — to his vehement objection that the pitch was low — Jason Kubel singled to put runners at first and second. Montero scored on A.J. Pollock’s bloop single, and Kubel came home from third when Gaudin was called for a balk.

The Giants made it 6-2 in the eighth when Gregor Blanco tripled to the right-field corner off Matt Reynolds and scored on Torres’ sacrifice fly to left.

There were several standout defensive plays, two of them in the first inning.

First, Pennington made a nifty over-his-head catch of Juan Perez’s pop foul down the right-field line from his position at second base. Then, Perez, in his major league debut, slammed into the wall in front of the swimming pool in right-center as he caught Goldschmidt’s deep drive. Perez got up slowly but jogged off the field and stayed in the game.

“I was just hoping it wouldn’t go out, and the next thing I know he’s catching it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “What a great play he made. He bruised his ribs pretty good. After all the adrenalin rubbed off, he was pretty sore.”

Perez said he would be fine.

Pence, playing right field, caught another shot by Goldschmidt at the fence to end the fifth inning.

NOTES: Goldschmidt went 0 for 4, ending his string of RBIs in eight straight games, which had tied a franchise record. … Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he was still awaiting results of the MRI on 3B Pablo Sandoval, who left Saturday night’s game in the third inning after aggravating a left foot strain that sidelined him for two games last week. … The three games against San Francisco were Arizona’s only home contests in a stretch of 17 games. … The D-backs now go to Los Angeles, where Wade Miley (4-5. 4.92) will start against Clayton Kershaw (5-4, 1.93) and the Dodgers on Monday. … With 38,222 on hand Sunday, the total for the weekend series was 120,338, the most at Chase Field for a three-game set since Sept. 23-25, 2011, also against the Giants.