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D-backs' bats break out after unconventional BP

@SteveGilbertMLB
May 14, 2019

PHOENIX -- When they dropped three of four games to the Braves over the weekend, the D-backs went 5-for-38 with runners in scoring position and all of the losses came by two or fewer runs. Five batters into their 9-3 win over the Pirates on Monday night, the D-backs already

PHOENIX -- When they dropped three of four games to the Braves over the weekend, the D-backs went 5-for-38 with runners in scoring position and all of the losses came by two or fewer runs.

Five batters into their 9-3 win over the Pirates on Monday night, the D-backs already were 2-for-3 in those situations and they were just getting started.

Box score

The D-backs banged out 13 hits, including six with runners in scoring position, in snapping their three-game losing streak while also running their winning streak against the Pirates to nine games, dating back to last year.

“No doubt, hitting is contagious,” D-backs catcher Alex Avila said. “When you’re playing well, the momentum is contagious.”

Of course, lack of hitting can be contagious as well, and that’s what happened to the D-backs during the Braves series.

In an attempt to shake things up, hitting coach Darnell Coles changed the way the D-backs went about batting practice Monday. They spent some time on the field hitting, but also down in the batting tunnels behind the dugout.

“It was not a normal batting practice,” Coles said. “We did some abbreviated situational stuff inside.”

When they were struggling with men in scoring position, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo talked about how his hitters were going out of the strike zone to swing at pitches early in counts rather than making a pitcher come to them.

That was part of the emphasis of Monday’s batting practice.

“Getting back to the basics of getting a good pitch to hit,” Coles said. “Understanding what to do when you have a guy on second with two outs, guys on first and third or third with less than two outs, just getting a good pitch to hit or stay disciplined enough to get a pitch that you can do whatever job needs to be done.”

Arizona scored at least one run in each of the first five innings, which made a winner of Robbie Ray (3-1).

“It’s nice to come out on the other side of things,” Lovullo said. “The offense came to life. Situationally, I thought we did some really good things. “

Ray fanned six batters, the final of which came against Pirates starter Nick Kingham to end the fourth. It was the 800th strikeout of his career, as he became the second-fastest left-hander in history to reach that mark. Ray did it in his 125th game, while the Angels’ Frank Tanana accomplished it in 120 games.

Eduardo Escobar led the charge with a triple, a homer and three RBIs while David Peralta drove home a pair of runs. Every position player in the starting lineup collected at least one hit except for Nick Ahmed.

“We’ve been linking at-bats and building innings,” Lovullo said. “But I think the final blow is what we’ve been missing over the past couple of days.”

It wasn’t absent Monday, as they battered Kingham (1-1) for seven runs and 10 hits over four innings.

“Their lineup’s stacked, one through nine,” Kingham said. “I made some pretty good pitches, and they put the bat on the ball. Laid off some really tough pitches, made me work tonight. It’s a tough lineup to face.”

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.