PHOENIX (AP) The Arizona Diamondbacks hustled for extra bases, made some nifty defensive plays and got a dominating performance from their starting pitcher.
At a time when the team has been ”wandering,” it was good to get back to what made them so successful early in the season.
Zack Greinke struck out nine in six-plus innings to bounce back from his first home loss of the season and the scrappy-again Diamondbacks beat the Houston Astros 2-0 on Monday night.
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”We’ve had some wandering moments and I think today we captured what we are all about in a nine-inning ballgame,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. ”It’s nice to see these guys locked in their focus. They did what they were supposed to when they were supposed to like they’ve been doing all year long.”
Coming off disappointing back-to-back series against two of the NL’s best teams, the Diamondbacks had five doubles, including three set up by aggressive baserunning.
Ketel Marte had one to drive in a run off Collin McHugh (0-2) in the second inning and J.D. Martinez had another off the right-hander in the sixth.
The bullpen did its job, with Jorge De La Rosa and Archie Bradley bridging the game to closer Fernando Rodney, who worked around an infield single in the ninth for his 27th save.
Greinke (14-5) was the catalyst.
The All-Star right-hander took his first home loss last week against the Los Angeles Dodgers and followed with a dominating performance against the majors’ top-hitting team.
Greinke struck out AL batting leader Jose Altuve three times and held the Astros to five hits in 6 2/3 innings to help the Diamondbacks win for the third time in nine games.
”He got chases when he needed chases,” said Houston manager A.J. Hinch, whose AL West-leading team has lost six of seven. ”He pitched a really good game. He doesn’t concede anything, especially when he has his command.”
Greinke had been dominant at Chase Field prior to his last start, going 10-0 for the best home start in franchise history. The Dodgers ended his undefeated home streak with a 3-2 win last Thursday, knocking him for three runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Greinke had his slider working well against the Astros, keeping the majors’ leader in hits and homers off-balance all night. Altuve, hitting .362 coming in, had his first three-strikeout game in three years and fourth overall in seven big-league seasons.
Greinke was lifted after giving up a two-out single to Derek Fisher in the seventh inning, a move precipitated by Lovullo’s decision to leave him in the loss against the Dodgers last week.
”I have four useable pitches, so I can kind of play with the hitters,” Greinke said. ”Maybe it helps that I have four useable pitches this season instead of just two.”
McHugh was solid in his fifth major league start, allowing two runs on six hits with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. He just couldn’t match Greinke at his best.
”He is a really good pitcher. I faced him twice and it was not close,” McHugh said. ”He held us at bay, but that doesn’t change your game plan, it doesn’t change the way you attack hitters.”
The Astros had three defensive gems against the Diamondbacks.
Right fielder Josh Reddick laid out to rob Martinez of a hit in the second inning, then made a nifty catch against the wall on a drive by A.J. Pollock in the seventh.
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman also barehanded grab on a squibber by Greinke to throw him out by a step in the second inning.
Astros: All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa took about 20 swings off a tee, fielded ground balls and ran the bases before Monday’s game, the latest step in his return from left thumb surgery.
Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray is expected to make a rehab start for Class A Visalia on Thursday, his first time facing live hitters since being struck on the head by a line drive against St. Louis late last month.
Astros RHP Brad Peacock, who has bounced between the rotation and bullpen, is 7-1 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 starts heading into Tuesday’s series finale against Arizona.
Diamondbacks: LHP Anthony Banda will be making his third career start after losing to the Dodgers in his last outing. He allowed three runs in four innings of the 8-6 loss.