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D-backs hang on for season-best 6th straight win

Arizona moves into tie with Phils in race for 2nd NL Wild Card
@SteveGilbertMLB
August 31, 2019

PHOENIX -- Torey Lovullo doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself, but after watching his D-backs beat the Dodgers, 6-5, on Saturday night to record their season-best sixth win in a row, he could barely contain his feelings. “When you collect wins like that, when your backs are

PHOENIX -- Torey Lovullo doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself, but after watching his D-backs beat the Dodgers, 6-5, on Saturday night to record their season-best sixth win in a row, he could barely contain his feelings.

“When you collect wins like that, when your backs are semi against the wall with the tying run at second base and the winning run at first base and you can slow the heart rate down and execute and make plays, I think that’s what championship teams do,” Lovullo said. “We are on a good path. I’m not predicting a championship, by any means.”

The win was the third in a row over the Dodgers, as the D-backs look to sweep the series Sunday afternoon. More importantly, they moved into a tie with the Phillies in the race for the second National League Wild Card spot, just 3 1/2 games behind the Cubs, who currently hold the spot.

Box score

It felt a little like a playoff contest at Chase Field with a record crowd of 50,180 that seemed into the game from the first inning and almost all stayed to watch what was an eventful ninth inning.

The D-backs carried a 6-4 lead into the final frame, an extra run of cushion provided by Eduardo Escobar’s homer off Kenley Jansen in the eighth.

Lovullo brought in Archie Bradley to close things out. It was the right-hander’s fifth appearance in the last seven games and the Dodgers were aggressive against him with Chris Taylor leading off the inning with a single on the first pitch he saw and Cody Bellinger following by swinging at the first pitch and smacking a double down the right field line to put runners at second and third.

Joc Pederson then drew a walk and the Dodgers were in business.

“I think the natural thought when I see that is, I might be wearing [Bradley] down a little bit,” Lovullo said. “But he picked it up.”

Well, more accurately, Christian Walker picked it up.

The first baseman made a diving backhand stop on Matt Beaty’s hard smash, threw to second while on one knee to get one out and Bradley raced to cover first and took shortstop Nick Ahmed’s throw just before Beaty’s foot hit the bag for a double play.

A run scored on the play, but Bradley was then able to retire Russell Martin to end the game.

Walker said he was ready for the ball to be hit his way because during a mound visit right before Beaty’s at-bat, Bradley had talked about what sequences of pitches he planned to throw Beaty.

“Play of the year,” Bradley said. “I’m still fired up. My heart is still beating fast. I’m still excited. It was all slow motion. He dove and it went into his glove. I paused. I didn’t know if I was going to get to the bag in time. I caught it and the first thing I did was look at the umpire and he gave a big, like, punch, to punch him out. I was like wow that was massive right there. Now let’s get one more out.”

Bradley said he leaned on some advice that veteran closer Greg Holland had given him earlier this year before Holland was designated for assignment.

“Obviously you don’t like loading the bases there, but in that role, you’ve got to think about what you’re trying to do next,” Bradley said. “I’ll give a shoutout to Greg Holland. He always told me to get the next guy out. No matter what happens, get the next guy out. That was kind of my mindset.”

Now the D-backs' mindset is to keep their roll going over the final 26 games of the season.

“We still have some things we need to take care of,” Lovullo said. “We know that there’s a month left in this baseball season, but we’re in a good spot. There’s a lot of energy inside of that clubhouse right now and I think these guys can’t wait to get after it tomorrow.”

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