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Greinke leads shutout for first Wrigley win

@SteveGilbertMLB
April 20, 2019

CHICAGO -- Zack Greinke once again fulfilled his duties as an ace as he helped deliver a win against the Cubs, 6-0, on a blustery Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. The win came one day after the D-backs struggled with Chicago’s wind and cold in a 5-1 loss. Greinke (3-1)

CHICAGO -- Zack Greinke once again fulfilled his duties as an ace as he helped deliver a win against the Cubs, 6-0, on a blustery Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. The win came one day after the D-backs struggled with Chicago’s wind and cold in a 5-1 loss.

Greinke (3-1) allowed just three hits and a pair of walks over six innings of work while striking out four. He combined on the shutout with Taylor Clarke -- the D-backs' No. 10 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- who made his MLB debut after being called up earlier in the day.

“Greinke, he just never gives in,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “The guy's able to hit corners well. He used to throw 95-96. Just imagine that, with that kind of command, because he's always been a pretty good command guy. So today, it was more the 88-89 fastball, but he threw it where he wanted to. He's smart. He's a very smart pitcher.”

It was Greinke’s first career win at Wrigley, the only current National League stadium in which he had not won a game.

“I didn’t even know that,” Greinke said. “Felt good. The weather wasn’t ideal, pitching or hitting, but it felt all right out there. The three runs were nice early [sparked by back-to-back homers from Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta in the first inning] and the extra [runs] later were even better.”

Since struggling on Opening Day against the Dodgers, when he allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, Greinke has found his footing and posted a 2.80 ERA.

“I think if you ask him, he’s already thrown that one out,” said D-backs catcher John Ryan Murphy, who added a two-run homer in the sixth and has been behind the plate for each of Greinke’s starts. “If you take that one out, I think the rest have been pretty darn good. What do I see different? I don’t see anything different. Chalk that one up to whatever it may be. They were locked in from Pitch 1 that series. Throw that one out, and he’s been pretty darn good since.”

Greinke showed why he’s still so good, even if his fastball is in the high-80s now rather than blazing in the mid-90s, when he struck out Jason Heyward looking in the fourth.

With the D-backs leading just 3-0 at the time, the Cubs had runners on the corners with two outs and Heyward at the plate.

The sequence during the nine-pitch battle went: curveball, changeup, changeup, fastball, fastball, curveball, changeup, curveball and finally an 88-mph fastball that froze Heyward.

“Just doing what he does, as far as mixing and matching, trying to be deceptive, throwing pitches in and out of the zone,” Heyward said. “I got to see everything from him today. He was able to make that last pitch on me. You've got to tip your hat. He threw a perfect pitch. Obviously, it would've been nice to come through there with a base hit or getting on base -- whatever -- just to get it to the next guy. But they were able to jump out to a lead and, when you face a veteran pitcher like that, he knows how to kind of do his thing to keep it where it's at.”

Greinke offered a glimpse into what he was thinking during the Heyward at-bat.

“He looked good on a curveball I threw and then he was late on a changeup and he was pretty good on another curveball,” Greinke said. “For a couple of pitches, I was thinking fastball was the right pitch, but in our plan that wasn’t really what we wanted to do. He was on time on the offspeed, so I was just going to try [a fastball] out and it worked. But it was also a quality pitch. If it had come back more over the plate, I don’t know what the results would have been.”

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