The D-backs (56-42) were swept by the Braves in Atlanta coming out of the All-Star break and have gone 3-6 since their midseason hiatus. They are 4-11 over their last 15 games and have seen their advantage in the National League playoff chase shrink to 4 ½ games over the Brewers and Cubs. They have fallen back to third in the NL West -- 11 1/2 behind the Dodgers and 1 game behind second-place Colorado.
The Braves (47-50) followed up their three-game sweep of the D-backs by getting swept in three games by the Cubs, but then went out to Los Angeles and split four games with a Dodgers team that lost only four games in their previous 35. They are second in the NL East, 12 games behind Washington.
Greinke did not pitch against the Braves in Atlanta, as manager Torey Lovullo opted to give him and Robbie Ray extra rest following the All-Star Game. He has made just one start since July 7 -- last Wednesday in Cincinnati.
He was not at his sharpest against the Reds -- giving up eight hits and three runs over five innings in a game the D-backs eventually lost, 4-3. But he said the layoff had nothing to do with it. "All of my pitches were sharp, but they had good at-bats," he said. "Maybe it's because they'd just seen my pitches (12 days before) and they felt comfortable up there."
Greinke has been literally unbeatable at Chase Field this season, going 9-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 11 starts. He is 2-1 with a 3.07 ERA in seven career starts against the Braves
Dickey was the winning pitcher in Atlanta's 4-3 victory over the D-backs on July 14, giving up eight hits but only one run over six innings. The 42-year-old knuckleballer is 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in four career starts against Arizona.
"You've got to manage this (Arizona) lineup," he said. "That's a really good team over there. If you see some breathing room, sometimes you've just got to take a walk and face the next guy."
Dickey took the loss against the Cubs last Wednesday, giving up four runs and seven hits in seven innings. That ended a streak of five consecutive starts in which he'd worked at least six innings and given up no more than one run. He's 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in his last six starts.
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Looking for a spark
Outfielder J.D. Martinez is hopeful of making his first home appearance in the D-backs starting lineup. He has just one pinch-hit appearance -- a walk -- since taking a fastball on his left hand on Wednesday.
The lineup could use a little boost. Chris Owings is hitless in his last 17 at-bats, Chris Herrmann is 0 for his last 12 and Paul Goldschmidt is in a 2-for-17 skid with 11 strikeouts.
Daniel Descalso is 2 for his last 18, but he has a nice history of success against Dickey (8 for 13, .615).
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Brandon Phillips was a one-man wrecking crew against the D-backs in Atlanta, banging out five doubles, one home run and seven hits in 13 at-bats, but he's only 3 for 25 in his career against Greinke.
Freddie Freeman leads the Braves with a .330 average and 18 home runs in 53 games. He is only 3 for 21 vs. Greinke, but facing him at Chase Field could change that dynamic. He's a .388 career hitter at Chase (31 for 80) with nine home runs in 19 games.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson, the D-backs' former No.1 draft pick, is 2 for his last 39 at-bats and 1 for 20 since the All-Star break.