The Arizona Diamondbacks aren't afraid to drop down bunts in an era in which seeking the long ball is the preferred style of play.
The small-ball strategy paid off in the opener of a four-game series on Monday, and now Arizona strives to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second straight nighton Tuesday at Phoenix.
Josh Rojas and Geraldo Perdomo each dropped down bunt singles during scoring innings as the Diamondbacks won the opener 3-0 for their fourth win in the past six games.
Rojas put down his bunt in the sixth inning to put runners at first and third with none out. Alek Thomas followed by grounding into a double play as Arizona scored its first run.
Perdomo's bunt single loaded the bases with none out in the eighth. After the next two hitters were retired, Ketel Marte drilled a two-run single to give the Diamondbacks a cushion.
"It's been really big for us," Rojas said of the squad's recent increase in using the bunt. "The way we beat teams right now -- we're not really going to outslug people -- is to be more athletic, run the bases hard, and play small ball and chip away runs."
The Pirates have lost three of their past four games after combining to strike out 11 times in the opener. They had just three hits -- all singles against Arizona starter Zac Gallen -- and had just one at-bat with a runner in scoring position while being shut out for the second time in the past four games.
Pittsburgh also made baserunning and fielding miscues. Bryan Reynolds got thrown out at third in the seventh inning when it was a 1-0 game. In the sixth, third baseman Michael Chavis made an error on a grounder and first baseman Bligh Madris dropped a pickoff throw as Perdomo took second, leading to Arizona's first run.
"We didn't catch the ground ball, and then we had a pick, but, ultimately, we didn't score," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said afterward. "Even if we lose that game 1-0 right there, we still didn't score and we didn't create a ton of opportunities to even score. I think that's more what it came down to."
Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz was hitless in three at-bats but didn't strike out. Cruz fanned nine times in the previous four games.
Right-hander Zach Thompson (3-8, 5.15 ERA) will start for the Pirates on Tuesday, and left-hander Tommy Henry (0-1, 7.20) will take the ball for Arizona.
Thompson is 0-4 over his last eight outings. He has a 5.75 ERA with nine homers allowed during the stretch.
His most recent victory came June 5 against the Diamondbacks when he gave up four hits over five scoreless innings. That marks his lone career appearance against Arizona.
Thompson, 28, received a no-decision against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. He gave up three runs and four hits over 4 1/3 innings.
Henry lost to the Cleveland Guardians last Wednesday in his major league debut. He gave up four runs and four hits in five innings.
Henry was 4-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 20 starts for Triple-A Reno prior to his recall, and Diamondbacks pitching coach Brent Strom already is tinkering with the 25-year-old's grip.
Strom saw that Henry gripped his curveball and slider with his fingertips. So Strom worked in the bullpen with Henry on Saturday.
"Really good breaking-ball pitchers that I've had a chance to be around -- they hold the ball a lot deeper in their hand," Strom told Arizona Sports.
--Field Level Media