Diamondbacks Rally to Dump Cubs

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Diamondbacks 4, Cubs 3

PHOENIX, May 13 — The Arizona Diamondbacks socked 12 hits to rally from a 3–0 deficit and defeat the Chicago Cubs, 4–3, Friday night at Chase Field. Second baseman Ketel Marte went 3-for-4 on the evening with two doubles, an RBI, and a run scored. First baseman Christian Walker went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, while right fielder Pavin Smith went 1-for-4 with an RBI double.

Diamondbacks Respond after Cubs Take the Lead

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Diamondbacks starter Zach Davies allowed three earned runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out six. Those three runs all came in the top of the third. A double to the gap in left-center by center fielder Jason Heyward and bunt single by second baseman Jonathan Villar put runners on the corners with nobody out. Up came shortstop and former Diamondback Ildemaro Vargas, whose triple to the gap in right-center cleared the bases. A sacrifice fly to left by right fielder Rafael Ortega, up next, plated Vargas and gave the Cubs a 3–0 lead.

The Diamondbacks responded quickly against Cubs lefty Drew Smyly. With one out in the bottom of the third, left fielder Cooper Hummel tripled to the corner in right. A grounder to third by center fielder Jordan Luplow threatened to make the triple go to waste. However, Marte made sure that didn’t happen. He hit a double to the left-field corner, scoring Hummel. Walker hit a high bouncer up the middle that a diving Vargas deflected. Marte scored easily in the ensuing scramble for the ball, making it a 3–2 game. Smith smashed a deep fly over the head of his counterpart, scoring Walker from first with a game-tying double. A grounder to short by catcher Daulton Varsho stranded Smith on second.

Diamondbacks Pull Ahead, Put Cubs Away

The Diamondbacks added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth. It all began with a leadoff walk by third baseman Josh Rojas. Designated hitter Seth Beer flied to center for the first out. After Rojas stole second, shortstop Geraldo Perdomo advanced him to third with an infield single. A wild pitch brought in Rojas and advanced Perdomo to second. Perdomo remained there, as Hummel and Luplow both struck out to end the inning.

Davies retired the Cubs 1-2-3 in the fifth and sandwiched a walk between two strikeouts in the sixth. Lefty Kyle Nelson retired Cubs first baseman Alfonso Rivas for the third out of the top of the sixth. Nelson gave up a leadoff single to DH Frank Schwindel in the top of the seventh, but a 6-5-3 (in the overshift) ground ball double play by Heyward erased that knock. A grounder to short by Villar ended the frame.

Setup man Ian Kennedy had a nice start to the eighth, retiring Vargas on a liner to center and whiffing Ortega. A grounder to short by catcher Willson Contreras would have ended the inning if not for a fielding error by Perdomo. Kennedy walked the next two hitters, Happ and third baseman Patrick Wisdom, bringing up Rivas with the bases loaded. A fly to center ended the half-inning and the threat.

Mark Melancon, who had a nightmarish outing Wednesday against the Miami Marlins, pitched an 11-pitch 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save of the season.

Postgame Reflections

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said afterwards, “Overall, I thought it was a pretty clean game. There were a couple of miscues in there, a couple of things that we got to clean up to get this thing real tight. But it’s solid starting pitching, turning it over to the bullpen. We executed on the mound, outside of that three-run inning. Zach made a couple of mistakes but ended up righting the ship. He made some quality adjustments mid-game and started to get into a good rhythm.

“The thing that stood out most to me offensively today was how we answered the three runs. This team’s got a great heartbeat. There’s limited panic. They just stay with the process, stay with their prep, and get very focused. And we answered back. The most powerful inning in baseball is the inning after you score. Shutdown innings are crucial, and we did a good job of not allowing that. It got us right back in the game, and I thought it made a good statement.

“But it was some timely hitting, good approaches all day long, a number of base hits. Pavin had the big blow. It was a key hit that put us in a really good position to tie the score.

It was a really nice day for us. We got to grind it out and keep getting after it tomorrow.”

Zach Davies

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Lovullo thought that early on Davies was “picking at the zone. He just was having trouble getting into a little bit of a rhythm. And I thought he got some really good direction from Strommy (pitching coach Brent Strom) about where to locate his fastball, and it opened up a couple of lanes for him. Once he got that information, he executed at a very high level and started to get some quick, easy outs. But in the first couple of innings, he was picking at the zone. He started to get ahead a little bit more in those middle innings.”

That adjustment was, according to Davies, to be “aggressive, knowing that they’re trying to get the ball out over the plate. So pitching inside a little bit. But trying to get ahead of hitters, not putting myself in a position where they’re hitters counts, and I have to be in the zone more and over the plate to try and get back in the count. As a command guy, you’ll fight that a little bit at times. But being able to get strike one. Getting ahead of guys. Trying to pitch from ahead as a pitcher definitely made things a lot better.”

Felt “Kind Of Off”

Davies relayed after the game that he felt “kind of off today. It felt like there were at bats where I got ahead and was able to put guys away. Then there were some at-bats where I got behind and had to kind of battle those. That third inning, I gave up a few runs and a few hard hits and the gaps. (There was also) a mistake on the bunt play from my part. That probably limits the damage a lot more than what happened if I make that play and just worry about one runner on base instead of multiple guys. But overall, I was happy to get over that inning and be able to pitch into the sixth inning and try to get through that sixth. But Kyle came in and did a great job.”

On the bunt play, Davies said, “I’m pretty aggressive with it. I tried to feel my position. And typically with a guy on second, you’re gonna try and bunt third-base side. So I jumped off and went to the wrong side. He was drag-bunting, trying to get a hit. So he pulled it and got the hit.”

Kyle Nelson

Lovullo praised Nelson for putting up another scoreless relief outing, his 12th in 13 appearances. “He’s come on very strongly. And he’s doing a really nice job for us. He’s trusted. I don’t think he’s gonna take anything for granted. He can’t. I want him to stay up on edge. Continue pitching and getting those opportunities. Going out there and chopping up, pitch by pitch and inning by inning. He’s been a very, very important piece of our bullpen puzzle.”

Mark Melancon

According to Lovullo, Melancon made some adjustments after his last outing. “He and Strommy had a good work day. Mark is so professional. He knows how to make quality adjustments. I think he’s online and keeping things closed up. His direction was really good today. That was a pretty crucial first out for him. He had to land a pitch and got the ground ball. From there, it took off for him. He made some nice pitches and got two easy outs.”

Looking Ahead

Davies (2–1) earned the win for the Diamondbacks while Smyly (1–3) took the loss for the Cubs. The Diamondbacks (18–15) will host the Cubs (11–20) in the second game of the three-game series Saturday evening. Zac Gallen (2–0, 0.95 ERA) will take the hill for the Diamondbacks against Cubs veteran Kyle Hendricks (2–3, 4.38 ERA) in a battle of righties. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 pm Arizona Time.

Main Photo:

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Players mentioned:

Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, Pavin Smith, Zach Davies, Jason Heyward, Jonathan Villar, Ildemaro Vargas, Rafael Ortega, Drew Smyly, Cooper Hummel, Jordan Luplow, Daulton Varsho, Josh Rojas, Seth Beer, Geraldo Perdomo, Kyle Nelson, Alfonso Rivas, Frank Schwindel, Ian Kennedy, Willson Contreras, Patrick Wisdom, Mark Melancon, Torey Lovullo, Brent Strom, Zac Gallen, Kyle Hendricks