Kubel comes through, much to D-backs’ relief

PHOENIX — Patrick Corbin remains as consistent as the weather.

Jason Kubel is just about that hot.

So once again Saturday, the reasons to believe outweighed the failures of closer Heath Bell as the Diamondbacks rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Reds at Chase Field.

Kubel saw to it with a two-run, bases-loaded single in the last of the ninth inning off the Reds’ 100-plus mph closer, Aroldis Chapman, lifting a single to right-center field to easily score two and extend the D-backs’ winning streak to four games.

It was D-backs’ sixth walkoff victory, the 17th in their final at-bat this season, and it is a trend that they can learn to live with, even if 11-5 victories like the one in the series opener Friday are a little easier on the nerves.

The momentum from comeback victories builds through the season, and after a while you get 2011 again, or 2007.

“We know in situations like that we are not out of it,” Kubel said. “We’ve made it work many times this year so far. Hopefully it keeps coming.”

It was a cleansing finish after a disturbing top of the ninth inning, when Bell came on and gave up a two-run home run to Jay Bruce to deprive Corbin of his 10th victory of the season, the fourth time he has time has tried without success. The bullpen has failed to hold leads for Corbin three times this season.

Corbin’s ERA  is 2.19, fifth in the major leagues, and with good fortune he could be 12-0. But who’s counting? He is not, saying the team’s wins are what matters.

“Obviously, I would love to win and get my 10th win out of the way, but fortunately we came back and ended up getting the win. I don’t really look at it too much,” Corbin said.

It took Corbin to kick-start the offense Saturday. Reds starter Mike Leake retired the first 17 batters he faced, reaching only three three-ball counts while needing no extraordinary help from his defense.

Corbin, trailing after giving up a 472-foot home run to Bruce leading off the second inning, sliced a double down the left-field line with two outs, and Gerardo Parra followed two pitches later with his seventh home run, his second in as many days.

Suddenly, Corbin had a 2-1 lead, and he made it stand up first by getting a double-play grounder in the seventh inning and then with a statement stand in the eighth. After Derrick Robinson tripled with one out, Corbin struck out Shin-Soo Choo on three pitches and got Joey Votto to swing through a 94 mph fastball to end the inning.

“I was going to try to throw as hard as I could by him, and if he got me, he got me. I was just glad that last one got by him. The adrenaline kicked in a little bit. With a guy on third, I was trying to strike those last two guys out and focus a little bit more on my location. I felt good all night,” Corbin said.

Added manager Kirk Gibson: “It’s a shame Patrick didn’t the the win. He did his job, that’s for sure.”

Kubel suffered a strained left quadriceps early in the season when his foot sunk deep into the ground while running the bases in Milwaukee, and while he has been back for the better part of two months, he said he is just beginning to feel good at the plate. It’s shown, as he has six hits in his last three games, including a four-hit game Friday.

“I was out there searching, cheating. That just doesn’t work out,” he said. “It’s a comfort zone where you feel strong and balanced and get better results. I finally feel like I have both legs under me, and I feel like am starting to use them now. I hope it stays that way.

“It was my back leg, my left leg, and that is where I generate most of my power. If you don’t have either your quad or your back leg, you can’t really drive too much. Kind of stuck straight up, off balance. That doesn’t work out too good.”

With that, the D-backs were able to get around Bell’s outing, which featured two batters and two runs: a nine-pitch walk to Brandon Phillips preceded Bruce’s second homer of the game.

“Plain and simple, I just need to execute pitches better,” Bell said. “But I don’t think my teammates were down or put their heads down at all, and I’m not going to do the same. They went out and beat one of the best closers in the game.”

With J.J. Putz seemingly close to returning from his rehab stint at Class AAA Reno, the closer’s role may be subject to revision. Bell has given up homers in his last five appearances, and Gibson was asked if he would still turn to Bell in save situations. 

“I might have to put some thought into that,” Gibson said.  

At least he could chew on it in the afterglow of a victory.

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