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Milwaukee

D-backs try to keep faint playoff hopes alive vs. Rockies

Sports Xchange
21 Sep 2018, 13:54 GMT+10

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks have been hard-pressed to recover from their last series in Dodger Stadium.

The Colorado Rockies may still have time to recover from theirs.

The Diamondbacks have lost 14 of 19 to fall six games behind Los Angeles in National League West and five games behind St. Louis for the second wild card spot with nine to play, the trouble starting when they lost three consecutive 3-2 games on the Dodgers' final at-bat from Aug. 31-Sept. 2. Arizona opened that series in first place in the division and the Rockies were in second.

The Dodgers pulled the same shenanigans on Colorado earlier this week, sweeping a three-game series at Dodger Stadium helped by six homers, including game-deciders in the final two games, to jump over the Rockies and take a 2 1/2-game division lead. The Rockies are 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the wild-card race.

"Like I've said all along, I think this is going to come down to the end," manager Bud Black told reporters after Yasiel Puig's three-run, pinch-hit homer in the seventh inning of a 5-2 victory Wednesday.

Rockies right-hander German Marquez (12-10, 3.96 ERA) is scheduled to face Arizona right-hander Zack Greinke (14-10, 3.20) in the first contest of a three-game series at Chase Field on Friday, the third time the two have opposed each other this season. Marquez enters with a streak of 10 straight quality starts.

The Rockies took three of four from the Diamondbacks early last week and led the division by 1 1/2 games before losing five of six on their current road trip. Their troubles were compounded by the loss of shortstop Trevor Story, who suffered right elbow inflammation and was forced to leave the first game of the Dodgers' series.

Story became the first shortstop in major league history with 40 doubles, 30 homers and 25 stolen bases when he doubled against the Diamondbacks on Sept. 11. He was expected to participate in baseball activities at the Rockies' spring training facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Thursday and could be available this weekend.

Since beating the Diamondbacks 10-3 on Sept. 13, the Rockies have scored nine runs in six games. They were shut out twice in San Francisco and scored two runs in each loss in Los Angeles.

"We've got to score more runs. We've got to get more hits," Black told reporters in Los Angeles. "This is something we talk about every afternoon when we get to the ballpark. We've got to press on."

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo found an unorthodox way to spark his offense Wednesday, when the Diamondbacks used homers from reserves Christian Walker and Chris Owings, and Jeff Mathis' first of the season in a 9-0 victory over the Cubs.

The victory, which broke a four-game losing streak, came with regulars and top hitters Paul Goldschmidt, David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Eduardo Escobar on the bench.

"You get the understudies in the ball game and they brought a certain energy to the start of the game," Lovullo said.

"Everybody has children here. You look in your kids' eyes after they studied for a test and they come home, and they don't do their job and you know that look. You can tell what's on their mind. I've seen a few of those looks from our guys, and I just thought it was time to give them a rest."

Patrick Kivlehan, who made his first start of the season, tied a franchise game record with two triples.

"We were just joking around, like the Reno Aces were going out there," Kivlehan said, referring to the Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate.

"We tried to keep it simple, not put too much pressure on ourselves. Just go out and have some fun. That would be awesome if it kind of got us going to make a little run here."

Lovullo said he plans to return to the regular lineup Friday.

"Obviously it has been a struggle the past couple of weeks, and I feel like (in) the dugout things have been like forced a little bit," Owings said. "A win like this might give some guys some clear heads going into Friday."

Greinke, who has a 3.20 ERA, will have the first of two possible chances to reach the 15-win plateau for the eighth time in his career Friday. He has won at least 15 games in six of the previous seven seasons, including the year he split between Milwaukee and the Angels in 2012. He won 13 in his first season in Arizona in 2016, when he was on the disabled list for six weeks with an oblique injury.

Greinke is 2-5 with a 3.75 ERA in his last nine starts after a streak in which he won seven straight decisions. He has given up a career-high 28 homers, five in his last four starts.

The Rockies are a familiar foe -- he is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA in four starts against them this season and is 12-5 with a 3.76 ERA in 29 career appearances (28 starts) Greinke has beaten them twice at Coors Field and once at home this season, when he gave only two hits and struck out a season-high 13 in a 6-1 victory at Chase Field on July 22. He is 6-3 at home this season after going 13-1 at home in 2017.

Marquez is 4-2 with a 2.34 ERA during his streak of 10 straight quality starts, a run that began after he gave up eight hits and six runs (five earned) in a no-decision against the Diamondbacks on July 20, a game the Rockies won 11-10. He has faced Arizona five times already this season, going 2-1 with a 4.33 ERA.

Marquez has 87 strikeouts and 14 walks during his streak, which covers 69 1/3 innings. He has had his only four double-digit strikeout games this season in the streak, with a season-high 13 against San Diego on Aug. 30. He struck out 11 Diamondbacks in a 13-2 victory at Coors Field on Sept. 10.

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