Greinke again rules on road as Diamondbacks shut out Braves
ATLANTA — Arizona manager Torey Lovullo asked his team for a strong finish before the All-Star break.
Zack Greinke set the example.
Greinke added another road win to his strong first half by allowing only four hits in 7 2/3 innings, extending Atlanta’s offensive slump, and the Diamondbacks shut out the Braves 3-0 on Saturday.
“He was fantastic,” Lovullo said. “Our guy, our All-Star goes out there and pitches into the eighth inning and really was in control every inning.”
Greinke (10-5), named to the NL All-Star team on Thursday as a replacement for Chicago’s Jon Lester, has won five straight decisions. The 34-year-old right-hander has been especially strong away from home, winning five straight road starts since June 8.
Greinke had seven strikeouts, did not walk a batter and allowed no more than one baserunner in any inning.
Even though he has not lost since June 13 against Pittsburgh, Greinke said he felt stronger than in other games, including his last start against San Diego.
“It felt good from the get-go,” Greinke said. “Way different from the last game. ... My fastball was really good today. That kind of made all the other pitches better.”
Ketel Marte hit a sixth-inning homer for Arizona, which has won the first two games of the three-game series and has matched its 2017 team record of 53 wins before the All-Star break. The Diamondbacks began the day one-half game behind the first-place Dodgers in the NL West.
“I’ve asked these guys openly to make sure they come out and play good baseball before the break and coming out of the break,” Lovullo said. “It’s very important to us. I’m proud of them. They’re executing and playing good baseball. That’s the bottom line.”
The Braves, who have lost eight of 10, remained 1½ games behind Philadelphia in the NL East.
An offensive slump is a big reason Atlanta fell out of first place this week after holding at least a share of the division lead since May 31. The Braves have scored no more than two runs in six of their last nine games.
“You know you’re going to go through this,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “We went a long time without experiencing it. We’re in a rut here, but you look up and we’re still in the thick of it. We’re still close.”
Brad Boxberger pitched around a one-out single by Nick Markakis in the ninth for his 24th save.
Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb, who didn’t walk more than three batters in any of his five June starts, has had renewed control problems in July. Newcomb (8-5) walked three of Arizona’s first four batters, setting up Steven Souza Jr.’s bases-loaded single to left field.
Newcomb allowed three runs on four hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. He has issued 12 walks in three starts this month.
Newcomb threw 36 pitches in the long first inning. He regrouped to record 10 straight outs after Souza’s single before Chris Owings singled with two outs in the fourth and scored on a double off the left-field wall by Jeff Mathis.
Marte’s homer gave Arizona a 3-0 lead and knocked Newcomb out of the game.
Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation for the second time in four weeks. The surprise move was made shortly before the game after Vizcaino said he was unavailable to pitch. “It’s concerning, very much so I think,” Snitker said. RHP Peter Moylan was reinstated from the 10-day DL.
Arizona’s Archie Bradley earned his 26th hold of the season, the most in the majors before the All-Star break since 1969, when holds became an official statistic, according to the Diamondbacks. Pittsburgh’s Mark Melancon also had 25 holds before the break in 2013.
Braves LHP Max Fried, on the 10-day DL with a left middle finger blister, is an option to start on July 24 at Miami if LHP Luiz Gohara is not yet sufficiently stretched out at Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves need help in their rotation with RHP Brandon McCarthy (right knee tendinitis) and RHP Mike Soroka (right shoulder inflammation) on the DL.
Diamondbacks: LHP Patrick Corbin (6-3, 3.09) has a 1.54 ERA in his last four starts since June 22.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (6-6, 4.47) is 3-1 with a 3.15 ERA in seven career starts against Arizona. He did not face the Diamondbacks in 2017.