Late threat not enough as D-backs fall to Pirates
PITTSBURGH -- Robbie Ray knows what makes him effective on the mound. Sometimes, however, he forgets.
A momentary lapse cost the Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander another loss Wednesday night. The Pittsburgh Pirates touched Ray for three runs in the second inning then held on late for a 4-1 win.
Ray (3-9) lost his fifth straight decision even though he gave up three runs in six innings, all the damage coming in a four-batter stretch in the second. Jung Ho Kang scored on a wild pitch, Sean Rodriguez followed with an RBI single and Gregory Polanco sent a run-scoring double to the wall in left-center.
Otherwise, Ray was fine. Just not good enough to win.
"I kind of got away from who I was as a pitcher and that's attacking guys," Ray said. "You know, here's my stuff, see if you can hit it. I was trying to nibble at the corners and that's just not who I am. "
The Diamondbacks mustered all of two hits until the ninth, when Paul Goldschmidt's RBI single gave them life and brought the tying run to the plate. Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon, however, struck out A.J. Pollock, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Peralta to end it for his 38th save.
"(Melancon) is one of the best in the league," Arizona's Jake Lamb said. "We battled, just like we did the past two nights. It's part of the game. He's one of the better ones. That's why you've got to get on the starter and the middle relief guys."
It didn't happen Wednesday as the Diamondbacks could do little against Pittsburgh starter J.A. Happ. Acquired at the trade deadline to bolster a rotation that has slipped a bit in recent weeks, Happ (5-7) gave up two hits in six innings.
The Diamondbacks have played well of late and averaged 6.6 runs in their last nine games. The closest they got to a significant threat against Happ came when he issued consecutive walks to start the second inning. A double play and a harmless grounder later, Happ was out of trouble and on his way. He retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced before being taken out after just 83 pitches.
"We just didn't come out like we did the previous two nights," Arizona manager Chip Hale said. "(Happ) just seemed to be able to locate the ball a little better than the other two guys did early in the game."
Ray remained winless since July 7, dropping his fifth straight decision even though the Pirates failed to hit a home run for the first time in 13 games.
Melancon bounced back after blowing his first save in nearly four months on Wednesday as Arizona rallied from a five-run deficit to force extra innings before falling 9-8 in 15. The Diamondbacks are 2-4 more than midway through a 10-game trip.
Diamondbacks: Arizona heads to Cincinnati on Thursday for a four-game set with the Reds. Patrick Corbin (3-3, 3.43 ERA) gets the start. Corbin is 2-0 in his last four starts. The Diamondbacks won two of three from Cincinnati in Arizona earlier this month.
Pirates: Pittsburgh hosts San Francisco on Thursday, the beginning of a four-game series that marks the Giants' first visit to PNC Park since beating the Pirates 8-0 in the Wild Card game last October. Charlie Morton (7-4, 4.36 ERA) faces Jake Peavy (3-5, 4.18). Pittsburgh swept three games from the Giants in San Francisco in June.