Diamondbacks hope to keep pounding Padres

PHOENIX — With Steven Souza Jr. and A.J. Pollock ready and able, the Diamondbacks have plenty of possible outfield combinations moving forward, which enables manager Torey Lovullo to stretch his imagination. Consider it stretched.

In three games since Souza returned from the disabled list to join Pollock, David Peralta and Jon Jay, the Diamondbacks have had three starting different looks. If they all work as well as they did in a 20-5 victory over San Diego on Saturday, they will be in good shape.

Souza Jr. hit his first Arizona homer Saturday after missing most of the season with a strained pectoral muscle, one of five homers when they Diamondbacks had a franchise-high in runs with a season-high 18 hits in the third game of the four-game series.

Arizona right-hander Zack Greinke will attempt to secure a series win when he opposes Clayton Richard at Chase Field on Sunday, when the All-Star teams will be announced.

Jay made his first start of the season in center field since joining the Diamondbacks in early June to give Pollock a day off, and the Lovullo’s options also include infielder/outfielder Chris Owings. They will grow when Jarrod Dyson returns from the disabled list.

“I’m having some very creative thoughts with generating some lineups,” Lovullo said. “There is going to be a nice rotation once everybody is back. They are all going to play. What the exact numbers are every 10 days, I don’t know at this point.

“I want to maximize opportunities to score runs, so I am going to pay attention to a lot of the matchups, a lot of the numbers, a lot of the projections. A lot of the things that I look at presently to make sure I am maximizing every opportunity to go out and put up numbers. It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s going to be a fun challenge. It’s going to be a situation that I’ll have to pay very close attention to.”

Nominal left fielder Peralta got a day off against Padres lefty Eric Lauer on Thursday and Jay got the next day off against lefty Joey Lucchesi, with Peralta returning to the leadoff spot he had occupied before Jay was acquired from Kansas City on June 7.

Souza has made all three of his starts in right field since his return and Pollock has all of his starts this season in center, positions each will occupy when they are in the lineup.

The outfield abundance gives Lovullo the ability to work off days into the equation, something he believes in. Paul Goldschmidt (155) and Jake Lamb (149) were the only Diamondbacks to play more than 140 games in their 93-win 2017 season.

“I feel like one of the reasons we were go good at the end of last year was because we were able to do what we are doing now, giving guys days off and spelling guys with quality backups,” Lovullo said.

“This is going to give us the opportunity to stay healthy for the rest of the season.”

Like Arizona in the outfield, San Diego has excess talent at second base and third base, where four players —Jose Pirela, Cory Spangenberg, Carlos Asuaje and Christian Villanueva — are battling for time. Pirela homered Saturday in his first start at second since June 30.

“You have four guys that are playing two positions, and you’re trying to figure out how to balance that consistently,” San Diego manager Andy Green said. “We’ll watch how that emerges, and those guys can claim that opportunity that is out in front of them.”

Greinke, 9-5 with a 3.36 ERA, has won his last four starts while giving up only five runs in 26 innings, with 22 strikeouts and only three walks. He is 6-1 since the start of June and is 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 19 career starts against the Padres. He has allowed two or fewer runs in 17 of those starts.

“The tempo and the rhythm between pitches is consistent and quick,” Lovullo said. “He is driving downhill fastballs on both sides of the plate. He has thrown breaking pitches into different areas at any time.

“There are so many different things that he does every year that he is now doing right in front of us that equal success. Fastball command would probably be the best thing. He establishes his fastball command and works off of that. Has a great sense, an incredible sense, of when and where to throw pitches.”

Richard, 7-8 with a 4.46 ERA, has lost his last two decisions, breaking a four-game winning streak that included road starts at Miami, Atlanta and San Francisco. He lost at Arizona on April 21 but has beaten the Diamondbacks more than anyone else in his career, going 10-6 with a 4.14 ERA in 189 starts. He is 4-4 with a 6.12 ERA in nine starts at Chase Field.