PHOENIX — This is exactly what the Arizona Diamondbacks said they wanted six months ago when spring training started: September evenings that featured high-stakes baseball in the middle of a pennant race.
Now that it’s finally here, they made a good first impression.
Christian Walker and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit two-run homers, Zach Davies had a quality start and the Diamondbacks beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 on Friday night.
“There’s a buzz for sure,” Walker said. “We made some good moves at the deadline, we got better as a team, we’ve got a ton of depth, a ton of excitement, lot of young energy. It’s going to be a fun month.”
The Diamondbacks got a much-needed win in their first game back home after a three-game sweep at the Los Angeles Dodgers. Arizona improved to 70-65 and moved into a tie with the Giants for the final NL wild-card spot.
The Orioles have dropped two straight.
The Diamondbacks jumped ahead 2-1 in the first on a two-run homer by Gurriel, which was his 21st long ball of the year. They extended that advantage to 4-1 in the sixth when Walker lofted a high-arching, no-doubter down the left-field line for his 29th homer.
“I took a shot and that’s what the team needed,” Walker said. “I got a breaking ball that he left up a little.”
Baltimore’s Ryan O’Hearn had two hits and two RBIs, including a run-scoring double in the eighth that cut the Diamondbacks’ lead to 4-2.
“We’ve got to score more than two runs to be able to win these games,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.
Davies (2-5) provided a second straight impressive start since returning from the injured list on Aug. 26. The right-hander gave up one run on four hits over six innings, striking out six and walking one.
Davies has never been a hard thrower and navigated through the Orioles’ lineup by placing his 88-89 mph fastball on the corners and adding some well-timed offspeed pitches.
“I do a lot of homework, I watch a lot of video, trying to study the guys as much as possible to get myself as much of as an advantage as possible,” Davies said. “I’m not like some of these guys who get to throw the ball as hard as they can.”
Paul Sewald handled the ninth for his 29th save in 34 chances.
Baltimore’s Cole Irvin (1-4) gave up four runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. The lefty struck out four and walked one.
Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson made a stellar defensive play to end a scoring threat in the fourth.
The 22-year-old made a nice catch for the second out, ranging into shallow left field to grab a short fly ball from Nick Ahmed. Henderson then wheeled and fired home, making a perfect throw to get Corbin Carroll at the plate, who had tagged from third.
Carroll came into the game with 41 stolen bases and is considered one of the fastest players in the big leagues.
“I just think their shorstop made a tremendous play,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “It was a tremendous catch, stop, re-align, and throw a blue dart right on the money to home plate. I think nine times out of 10, Corbin scores on that play, so I have no problem with that.”
Henderson added two hits, including a double.
Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of an illness.
The Diamondbacks called up OF Pavin Smith, INF Emmanuel Rivera and RHP Luis Frías from Triple-A Reno. They also optioned INF Buddy Kennedy to Reno.
The Orioles called up OF Colton Cowser and RHP Joey Krehbiel from Triple-A Norfolk.
The three-game series continues Saturday. The Diamondbacks will start RHP Slade Cecconi (0-0, 2.57 ERA) while the Orioles will counter with RHP Kyle Bradish (9-6, 3.03 ERA).
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB