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Pujols backs Chavez's strong start

March 27, 2017

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Angels broke open a one-run game with a three-run rally in the fifth that sparked their 4-2 win over the D-backs, but it was a commanding performance from Angels starter Jesse Chavez that ruled the day.Chavez was masterful, getting through six full innings on just 73

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Angels broke open a one-run game with a three-run rally in the fifth that sparked their 4-2 win over the D-backs, but it was a commanding performance from Angels starter Jesse Chavez that ruled the day.
Chavez was masterful, getting through six full innings on just 73 pitches (43 strikes). He blanked the D-backs on three hits, walking none and striking out three, providing extra justification for being named the Angels' fifth starter.
"I've seen him throw like that against us a lot," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "He carved guys up on both sides of the plate and really had good fastball command. Mixed in his cutters, did everything you want a command pitcher to do. And he was sneaky, too, had good velocity."

The Angels took an early lead in the second when Jose Pujols led off with a single to left. C.J. Cron moved him over with a base hit and Danny Espinosa's RBI single to right put the Angels up 1-0.
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D-backs starter Shelby Miller had a solid outing but could have been more efficient with his pitches. He came out of the fifth after facing two batters with 94 pitches logged, 56 for strikes. He gave up two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four before turning the inning over to left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, who is competing for a spot in the D-backs bullpen.

"I was trying to overpower the hitter and not really focusing on hitting my spots," Miller said. "I probably wasted at least 10 pitches on heaters that I missed up that I was trying to go down and away with, or that they didn't swing at. It wasn't efficient at all. Other than that I felt good. Offspeed stuff was good, I just have to work on getting that fastball location."

Video: LAA@ARI: Pollock makes a running catch on the track

De La Rosa faced the heart of the Angels order -- Michael Trout, Pujols, and Cameron Maybin -- and allowed two runs on a walk and two hits, including a ground-rule double to left from Pujols. De La Rosa came back in the sixth to retire the only left-handed hitter he faced, Nolan Fontana.

"We know the batters he was thrown in against," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "We want to test these guys, we want to challenge these guys, and we want them to rise to the challenge of facing some of the best hitters on the opposition. It's a good way for us to measure and mark and see where they're at. He didn't back down. He was unable to be consistent with has fastball, and I think that's why the first inning was a little bit of a challenge for him."

Right-hander Silvino Bracho is among three other relievers competing with De La Rosa for two spots in the D-backs bullpen. Pitching for just the second time in over three weeks since leaving to pitch for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, Bracho pitched a one-two-three eighth, with two strikeouts.

"What he did today was pretty impressive," Lovullo said. "Fastball command, down in the zone, quality changeup, and really blew threw his hitters and blew threw his inning's worth of work. That was a really encouraging outing for us to watch, and I'm sure it was really exciting for him to get that under his belt, knowing what he walked through over the last two weeks."

Arizona could muster little offense through the first seven innings, with Miller connecting for the lone extra-base hit, a double to center in the bottom of the third.

Angels Up Next: Right-hander Bud Norris will make his seventh appearance of the spring on Tuesday when the Angels host the A's at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Norris, who is in good position to make the Halos' bullpen, is only expected to throw a couple of innings. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m. PT. The game can be seen on MLB.TV.

D-backs Up Next: Zack Greinke gets his final tune-up before making his Opening Day start when the D-backs visit the Mariners for a 1:10 p.m. PT tilt on Tuesday. The right-hander has made two previous Cactus League starts and has allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out five over 6 2/3 innings. The game can be seen on MLB.TV.

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the D-backs on Monday.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.