Corbin hit hard, D-backs' late rally falls short
MILWAUKEE -- There's an unlikely occupant at the top of the NL Central standings on Memorial Day. The Milwaukee Brewers are just fine remaining overlooked.
Domingo Santana hit his first career grand slam and the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers held off the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-5 on Sunday.
"We can surprise a lot of people," said Jimmy Nelson, who finished with 10 strikeouts over seven strong innings. "We knew we were a lot better in spring training than we were being given credit for. We're going to keep trying to go out there and keep the energy and have fun."
The Brewers built an 8-1 lead thanks to Santana's blast and Nelson's superb performance. But, it was almost all for naught.
After Nelson (3-3) departed, Arizona scored four times in the eighth off relievers Oliver Drake and Carlos Torres. With the tying run at the plate, Jacob Barnes forced pinch hitter Paul Goldschmidt to fly out to end the threat. Barnes also worked the ninth for his second save this year.
"It was a big situation. I had to get probably their best hitter out," Barnes said. "You don't really know how his approach is going to be as a pinch-hitter, so that was kind of the question mark going into it."
The late dramatics overshadowed Nelson's dominance. He allowed one run on seven hits, three of them by Brandon Drury.
Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin (4-5) gave up seven runs on 10 hits and didn't record an out in the fifth.
"I didn't work ahead as I normally do," Corbin said. "I just left some pitches up and they took some good swings."
For the second straight game, Arizona pressed the issue late after getting to Milwaukee's bullpen.
"It was still 8-1 and our guys were saying, `Let's just get something started, let's not shut down,'" manager Torey Lovullo said. "Those are great rallying moments."
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Drake allowed the first five runners of the eighth to reach without recording an out. Torres allowed a sacrifice fly to Drury and a run-scoring double to Descalso that cut it to 8-5 before Barnes forced Goldschmidt to fly out to center to end the threat.
"It really just shows the character of this team," Lovullo said.
Nelson controlled the strike zone with a fastball in the mid-90s and used the shadows that crept across the diamond to his advantage. He threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of 27 batters he faced as Milwaukee built an 8-1 lead with the tall right-hander on the hill.
"He was really sharp. He was just hitting his spots, he was getting ahead with the slider," Drury said. "He was on, he got us."
Milwaukee got three hits from Manny Pina and two hits each from Santana, Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw, Jonathan Villar and Orlando Arcia. Nick Ahmed, David Peralta and Daniel Descalso each had two hits for the Diamondbacks.
But the biggest hit of the game came from Santana in the fourth, when he muscled a ball to right-center field for Milwaukee's first grand slam this season.
"We know we have a good team and we still have a lot to prove," Santana said. "We still have a long way to go, and I think a lot of `people still have a lot of things to prove here as a team, too. I think we're not where we want to be yet."
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said CF A.J. Pollock (groin) is "progressing very well," but he doesn't have an exact date Pollock will return.
The Diamondbacks continue their season-long 11-game road trip with a three-game series against the Pirates. Randall Delgado (1-0, 3.82 ERA) is projected to face Pittsburgh's Trevor Williams.