The Arizona Diamondbacks have had their way with the San Francisco Giants of late. That's been the case for Zack Greinke in his entire career.
In a matchup pitting two of the biggest free-agent acquisitions of the offseason, Greinke looks to remain undefeated against the Giants on Thursday night opposite Johnny Cueto in the opener of a four-game series in Arizona.
Greinke outdueled Madison Bumgarner in San Francisco on April 20 by allowing one run and striking out seven over 6 2/3 innings of a 2-1 win, his first with Arizona. He improved to 8-0 with a 2.12 ERA in 11 starts against the Giants, one of three teams he has never lost to.
The right-hander gave up seven runs and 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings in his next outing but got the win as Arizona scored nine times in the sixth to beat St. Louis 12-7 on April 25.
He was much better in his following two starts, allowing four runs and striking out 16 over 13 innings. Greinke (3-2, 5.15 ERA) lasted six innings Friday in a 7-2 win at Atlanta that ended the Diamondbacks' six-game slide.
“Just have to make good starts, probably especially in that situation,” Greinke told MLB's official website. “It's probably more important than if you're in a five-game winning streak. Your main job is just to pitch good all year.”
Greinke's strong outing was the beginning of a five-game win streak for the Diamondbacks that came to an end Wednesday with an 8-7 loss at Colorado. They went 5-4 on their trip but are 5-12 in Arizona.
“Now it's time to go home and defend our home field, and that's another chapter that we have to open up,” manager Chip Hale said.
Arizona (17-19) swept that four-game set in San Francisco last month and has won seven of the past eight meetings. The Diamondbacks handed Cueto (4-1, 3.02) his first loss with the Giants (18-18) in the finale, which featured a benches-clearing incident.
Both teams received warnings in the eighth inning after San Francisco's Josh Osich hit David Peralta with a pitch for the second straight day. Peralta walked toward the mound as the benches cleared.
Arizona's Jake Lamb went 7 for 15 with a homer, triple and four doubles during the sweep.
Cueto allowed three runs in seven innings of the 6-2 loss April 21 to drop to 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA in nine starts against Arizona. He went the distance and struck out 11 to beat San Diego 1-0 in his next start, then gave up six runs over five at Cincinnati before the Giants rallied for a 9-6 victory.
The right-hander was stellar again Saturday, pitching 8 1/3 scoreless innings of a 2-1 win in 13 over the Rockies.
“I think you have to start with Cueto because their guy was really on,” manager Bruce Bochy said. ” … So you need your guys to put up zeros, and what a game Johnny had.”
The Giants avoided a four-game losing streak by beating Toronto 5-4 in 13 innings Wednesday on Buster Posey's bases-loaded walk. San Francisco was shut out twice and scored one run in the other contest during the three-game slide.
“It's a win,” said Posey, who ended an 0-for-18 slump earlier in the game. “You get to the point about 4 1/2 hours in, does it really matter?”
Paul Goldschmidt is 5 for 12 with a homer when facing Cueto, the same numbers he's put up over the last three games. Denard Span is a career .306 hitter (11 for 36) against Greinke.