D-backs, All-Star Greinke face off vs. Braves, Newcomb

ATLANTA — Veteran Arizona right-hander Zack Greinke is headed to the All-Star Game. Until his past two starts, it looked like young Atlanta left-hander Sean Newcomb might be going as well.

Grienke and Newcomb will be mound opponents Saturday in the middle game of the weekend series between the Diamondbacks and Braves at SunTrust Park.

Greinke (9-5, 3.39 ERA) comes into the start with momentum, having won six of his past seven decisions.

Newcomb (8-4, 3.44 ERA) will be trying to get back on track after lasting just a combined 6 1/3 innings and giving up 10 runs in his past two outings.

Greinke’s rough stretch came early in the season and that followed a rough spring training. That he has pitched as well as he has since makes his fifth All-Star Game a little more special to the 34-year-old pitcher.

“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get any outs this year,” Greinke said after being named to the National League team on Thursday as a replacement for Chicago Cubs left-hander Jon Lester. “To end up doing as good as it’s been so far, it’s pretty exciting.”

Greinke, who was 17-7 with a 3.20 ERA a year ago for Arizona, tossed a scoreless inning in the All-Star Game last season, allowing one hit, and started for the NL in 2014 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Newcomb didn’t make his major league debut until last June, but he was 7-1 with a 2.49 ERA through 12 starts this season before going 1-3 with a 5.58 ERA in his past six outings.

Seven of the 10 homers that Newcomb has surrendered have come in those six starts and he has walked nine in the past two games, lasting just 2 2/3 innings against the Yankees in New York and 3 2/3 innings against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

“It was like he didn’t have a feel for pretty much anything,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after Newcomb’s rough outing at Milwaukee. “He was scattering fastballs all over the place and he was just off.”

The 24-year-old Massachusetts native is 5-3 with a 3.79 ERA in 11 road starts compared with 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA in seven home outings.

“I don’t expect to be perfect every time out,” Newcomb said. “It just happened to be a couple rough ones in a row. I’ve just got to wipe it clean and move forward.”

Newcomb will be facing Arizona for the first time, and Greinke will be making his ninth career start against Atlanta.

Greinke has fared well against the Braves, going 3-1 with a 2.94 ERA. He beat them in Arizona last season, allowing five hits and two runs in eight innings.

Freddie Freeman is 4-for-24 lifetime against Greinke and Ender Inciarte is 2-for-14.

The Diamondbacks (52-43) took the first game of the series, winning 2-1 on Friday night for just their fifth victory in the past 14 games as they battle the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the National League West.

It was the seventh loss in nine games for the Braves (51-41) and dropped Atlanta 1 1/2 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East.