PHOENIX – This was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel.
Zack Greinke taking the mound for Arizona, facing former teammate and fellow ace Clayton Kershaw for just the second time in their careers. And the first time ever at Chase Field. Based on name recognition alone, runs should’ve been at a premium.
It’s not like either guy is having a down year either. Greinke carried a 2.91 ERA into the game, while Kershaw entered with a 2.85 mark. So yeah, this was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel.
The Diamondbacks won anyway, though, touching up the Los Angeles bullpen for four runs in the eighth, en route to an 8-5 victory in front of 24,675 fans on Monday.
The Dodgers came out of the gates aggressive. Four of the first six LA batters picked up hits off Greinke, putting Arizona down 3-0 in the first. That’s not exactly the start Torey Lovullo’s group was looking for — particularly against Kershaw.
“I just came out throwing strikes and they came out swinging,” Greinke explained. “That’s kind of what happened. I don’t know what exactly happened the other way around, but that’s what I was doing and what the hitters were doing. At first, at least.”
The D-backs responded quickly, though, getting all three of those runs back off Kershaw in the bottom of the inning. Christian Walker’s three-run blast tied the game, giving him three homers in six career at-bats against the three-time Cy Young winner up to that point.
“Baseball’s funny,” he pointed out. “Things come in bunches. For whatever reason, I see that slider well. I think two of them for sure – I think all three, maybe, on that pitch. I was just looking for something good early, I knew he was going to try to get out ahead. I didn’t want to hang around and wait around and see the slow curve, or the heater that’s going to bust me in. Wanted to get out of there early and, luckily, it was out over the plate and the pitch I was looking for.”
Tied at three just one inning in, the game got even weirder when Greinke used his bat to break the deadlock in the second. With two outs and no one on, he lofted a Kershaw pitch into the left field seats, putting Arizona up 4-3 in the process.
“It was nice,” Greinke acknowledged. “It seems to be happening a lot more in baseball, so not as big of a shock as it used to be.”
From there, Greinke settled in on the mound. Adjusting to how the Dodgers attacked him in the first, he gave Arizona five scoreless innings before being saddled with a fourth run after exiting in the seventh.
The Diamondbacks used late-inning heroics to pick up the win. David Peralta, Nick Ahmed and Tim Locastro all chipped in with RBIs in the eighth, giving Arizona the lead for good.
For Peralta, that’s the second straight contest with LA where he delivered a big hit late. And Ahmed had already made the play of the night in the top half of the inning, leaping to rob Will Smith of a line drive base hit with a runner on and no one out.
“He’s the best out there,” Ketel Marte said of Ahmed’s defense. “I keep saying he’s the best out there. He can make plays better than that.”
Lovullo echoed that praise.
“He spoils us so much.”
With the win, the Diamondbacks have now won two straight to climb back to .500 at 40-40. Walker’s two hits extended his hitting streak to nine games, while Marte tied a club record held by Luis Gonzalez with his seventh consecutive multi-hit game. Greg Holland closed things out for his 200th career save.