The D-backs (59-43) moved 1 ½ ahead of Colorado for the National League's first wild-card spot with Thursday's 4-0 victory over the Cardinals (50-52), who fell 4 ½ games back in the NL Central.
The shutout was the fourth of the season for the D-backs pitching staff, and it was also the fourth time the Cardinals have been blanked (and their first shutout at home since April 9).
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny gave credit to Arizona starter Zack Godley. "I felt like he had everything working," Matheny said. "It was one of the sharpest breaking balls we've seen all year."
D-backs starting pitcher Robbie Ray (9-5, 3.15 ERA)
Ray is coming off of a bumpy start against the Nationals on Sunday. He gave up four first-inning runs and needed 101 pitches to make it through five innings in a 6-2 Arizona loss. He gave up six hits and five runs (four earned), walked two and struck out four.
Ray has been nearly unbeatable on the road. In nine starts away from Chase Field, he is 5-1 with a 1.51 ERA (10 earned runs). He's struck out 77 in 59 2/3 innings, surrendered only five home runs and is limiting opposing batters to a .174 batting average.
Ray is 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA in two career starts against St. Louis, but he did limit them to three hits and one earned run over five innings last season at Busch Stadium.
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Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha (7-4, 3.93 ERA)
Wacha gave up five runs in six innings and took the loss last Sunday against the Cubs, but that ended a streak of four consecutive victories in which he gave up only three runs, 18 hits and five walks in 26 2/3 innings.
He's 5-1 in his last eight starts, giving up just three home runs over that stretch.
Wacha is 0-1 with a 4.37 ERA in four career starts against the D-backs.
A fine how-do-you-do
The D-backs knew what they were getting when they traded for J.D. Martinez, but even they have to be feeling pretty good about his impact on his new team.
Martinez's fourth-inning grand slam was responsible for all the scoring in Thursday's 4-0 victory over the Cardinals, and it was his fourth home run in the last four games. He has 11 RBI in 20 at-bats with his new team.
The grand slam followed walks by Jake Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt that left the bases loaded, and manager Torey Lovullo says that's a sign of hitters who aren't trying to do too much, because they know they're protected by others in the lineup. "We've been building innings," Lovullo said. "As long as we do that, we'll figure out a way to score runs."
Lamb is hitless (0 for 14) in his last five games, but he's walked eight times and scored four runs.
The acquisition of Martinez was in part intended to help with a season-long weaknesses vs. left-handed starter, but ironically, tonight's game will be their 11th in a row against a right-handed starter. They aren't scheduled to face a lefty until Aug. 2 against Jon Lester of the Cubs.
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While the addition of Martinez has stabilized the D-backs' outfield, Torey Lovullo has had to make some adjustments in the infield due to recent slumps by Chris Owings and Brandon Drury. But he's had that luxury, thanks to the presence of capable fill-ins like Ketel Marte and Daniel Descalso.
Owings is 1 for 30 with no walks and 10 strikeouts over his last eight games, dragging his average down to .269. Drury has started just one of the last four games, hasn't homered since June 13 and is hitting .200 over his last 25 games (16 for 80).
"He's still a young player," Lovullo told mlb.com. "He's had a great offensive year in spurts, the numbers are very solid, and we just want to make sure he continues to learn and grow. I wanted to pull back from the moment and work on a couple of things."