PHOENIX – Hits have been hard to come by for the Arizona Diamondbacks and probably will be all season, so they will need to find other ways to win games.
Arizona certainly did against the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning with two hits a day after beating them with four.
Zac Gallen pitched six scoreless innings, and the Diamondbacks scored two runs after Max Muncy‘s throwing error in the eighth inning of their 3-1 victory over the Dodgers on Wednesday.
“We’ve learned to embrace close games, we’ve learned to embrace execution in critical moments and we’re prepared to play games like this all season long,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said.
Gallen was sharp for the third straight start, allowing two hits as the Diamondbacks – baseball’s worst-hitting team – struggled against Dodgers starter Julio Urias.
Arizona led 1-0 when Gallen left, thanks to Nick Ahmed‘s first homer of the season, but Ian Kennedy (2-1) gave up Trea Turner‘s run-scoring single in the eighth inning.
Then the Diamondbacks found a way to manufacture some runs – with a little help.
Arizona went back ahead in the bottom of the eighth, when Daulton Varsho scored from first base after Muncy threw the ball into right field on Sergio Alcantara‘s sacrifice bunt. Pinch-hitter Pavin Smith put the Diamondbacks up 3-1 with a groundout off Daniel Hudson (1-1).
Mark Melancon worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save in Arizona’s first series win over the Dodgers since Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2019.
“We’re kind of coming into our own,” Gallen said. “We’ve got some talent here and just have to take advantage of some of their mistakes.”
Urias allowed a hit – Ahmed’s homer in the fifth – in six innings. Turner also doubled to reach base for the 37th straight game spanning two seasons, including all 18 this year.
The Dodgers finished with five hits and had two errors, none more crucial than Muncy’s throw.
“Up until this series, I thought we played good baseball, fundamental baseball, catching and throwing it accurately,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “This series, we didn’t do a good job of that.”
Gallen allowed one run and four hits in nine innings over his first two starts, but didn’t win either game. The right-hander was hitting his spots against the Dodgers, giving up a single to Mookie Betts in the third and nothing else until Turner’s double with two outs in the sixth.
“Everything felt pretty good, for the most part,” said Gallen, who struck out five and walked two. “I had good fastball command, so tried to stick with that.”
Urias allowed a run in five innings to beat San Diego in his last start. He didn’t allow a hit against the Diamondbacks until Ahmed’s drive to left with one out in the fifth.
Urias struck out four and walked two.
“He competed, he made pitches,” Roberts said. “Obviously, he’d like to have that 2-1 fastball in to Ahmed back, but he gave us what we needed.”
Gallen has been sharp coming off a 4-10 season in 2021. Fastball command up in the zone has been a big part of it.
“We’re riding the fastball up in the top of the zone. It’s no mystery, everybody sees that,” Lovullo said. “He’s been able to command each edge and he’s riding it up. There’s a lot of swings and misses with his fastball.”
Los Angeles: LHP Tyler Anderson (1-0, 2.84 ERA) has struck out 12 in 12 2/3 innings heading into Thursday’s start against Detroit.
Arizona: LHP Humberto Castellanos (1-0, 3.00 ERA) will make his third start Thursday at St. Louis after opening the season in the bullpen. He was activated from the paternity list – his daughter, Emily, was born on Saturday – Tuesday night and RHP Edwin Uceta was optioned to Triple-A Reno.