Padres head to Arizona to face red hot D-backs
PHOENIX — Do not look now, but the best team in the National League West might be further inland than it was a month ago.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have been that good.
Arizona has won a franchise-record 13 consecutive games, including a pair of three-game sweeps in 10 days over the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, whose roll to the best record in major league history is over.
In between, the D-backs (82-58) swept a three-game series in Colorado, the top contender for the other NL wild-card spot. Arizona finds itself a season-high 24 games over .500 entering a weekend series against the San Diego Padres.
The Diamondbacks played the past four games without MVP candidate and cleanup hitter Paul Goldschmidt, who is dealing with right elbow soreness, although an MRI taken Monday indicated no structural damage.
Even that did not slow the club.
Arizona has taken rookie manager Torey Lovullo’s mantra of playing “downhill baseball” to an extreme. The Diamondbacks did not trail in a game for 97 consecutive innings during the streak, tied with the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers for the second-longest streak in the modern era. The 1942 Yankees did not trail for 100 straight innings.
“We’re battling, grinding and sticking together, and those are things that make you win those close games and win 13 straight,” Lovullo said.
In other historical news, J.D. Martinez became the 18th player to hit four homers in a game when he did it in the D-backs’ 13-0 victory at Dodger Stadium on Monday, capping his big night with homers in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Martinez has 18 homers in 42 games in Arizona since being acquired in a July 18 trade with Detroit.
The Diamondbacks will look to extend the run against San Diego (63-78) on Friday behind left-hander Patrick Corbin (13-11), who has a personal five-game winning streak. His ERA is 3.83, the lowest it has been since April 30.
The Arizona rotation is 12-0 with a 1.56 ERA during the winning streak.
Right-hander Jordan Lyles (0-2, 6.71 ERA) will make his second start since joining the Padres in early August.
The Diamondbacks’ never-behind streak was broken in the first inning in Los Angeles on Wednesday, but Arizona responded with a run in the second inning en route to its team-record fourth consecutive series sweep.
The Dodgers still have a double-digit division lead, but they may not feel as safe as they did a month ago after Arizona outscored them 19-2 in a three-game set at Dodger Stadium that concluded Wednesday and 21-7 in a three-game sweep at Chase Field, Aug. 29-31.
Los Angeles’ division lead is down to 10 games after it was 21 games two weeks ago.
The Padres have won four of seven after beating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 on Thursday to halt a three-game losing streak.
“The guys are resilient,” San Diego manager Andy Green said after the Padres took three of four from the Dodgers. “They believe in each other. They’ve played good baseball for an extended period of time after starting the season 15-30. You don’t get the luxury of being a championship team by X-ing out the first month and a half, but we’re taking steps in the right direction.”
Corbin has given up two earned runs his past 35 2/3 innings, and with that streak has joined the four other Arizona starters with an ERA under 4.00. No other team in the league can say that.
Corbin is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three starts against the Padres this season and 5-5 with a 3.49 ERA against them in his career. He is 8-3 with a 2.64 ERA in 14 starts at Chase Field this season.
Lyles signed with the Padres after being released by Colorado in early August. A former starter, Lyles made 33 relief appearances with the Rockies this season before joining the Padres’ rotation for the second game of a doubleheader against the Dodgers on Saturday. He gave up six hits and two runs in 4 1/3 innings en route to a no-decision in the Padres’ 7-2 victory.
Lyles is 1-6 with a 7.26 ERA in 16 career appearances against Arizona, eight as a starter. He has given up 41 hits (five homers) and 25 runs in 24 innings at Chase Field, all while with Colorado.