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Stout pitching helps D-backs roll into 2nd half

MLB.com

ATLANTA -- Make no mistake about it -- the D-backs were in desperate need of a savior on the mound coming into Braves country at SunTrust Park in the club's last series before the All-Star break.

But that savior didn't come in the form of one man, it came as the entire D-backs pitching staff. From starters to relievers, the Arizona pitchers came to Atlanta ready to reload from a tedious week.

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ATLANTA -- Make no mistake about it -- the D-backs were in desperate need of a savior on the mound coming into Braves country at SunTrust Park in the club's last series before the All-Star break.

But that savior didn't come in the form of one man, it came as the entire D-backs pitching staff. From starters to relievers, the Arizona pitchers came to Atlanta ready to reload from a tedious week.

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To say the D-backs' pitching staff was gassed coming into the weekend's series with the Braves would be an understatement. Last Sunday, Arizona went 16 innings against the Padres. On Wednesday, Shelby Miller (tightness in right elbow) and T.J. McFarland (strain in left neck) were removed early from the D-backs' game against the Rockies in Colorado due to injuries. This forced Arizona to use two position players to get through the debacle. Both Miller and McFarland landed on the 10-day disabled list on Thursday.

"That 16-inning game, it really put us behind the eight ball with what we were having to do out of the bullpen," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "Guys were mixing up their roles, and it was just a hard thing to do in the time period that we were asked to do it in."

Things weren't looking good for the D-backs coming into Atlanta on Friday -- but the team that walked into SunTrust Park on Sunday morning has turned things around, clinching the series with two wins on Friday and Saturday. And the credit goes to what everyone thought was a worn-out pitching staff.

Zack Godley and Zack Greinke carried much of the workload in their starts on Friday and Saturday, respectively. In a six-inning outing on Friday, Godley held the Braves to just one run on six hits. Then, All-Star Greinke shut out the Braves' offense on Saturday, retiring 23 of the 27 batters he faced in his longest start of the season.

"It was nice to get two really good outings, and we were able to structure the bullpen," Lovullo said. "[We could] go to guys that you know are your backend guys that help you win baseball games."

And that's exactly what happened when Godley and Greinke exited their starts -- the bullpen held up their end of the bargain with Archie Bradley and Brad Boxberger keeping the Braves scoreless on both days.

Going into Sunday's game, Bradley has earned the most holds (26) before the All-Star break for any Major League player since the statistic was recognized in 1969, while Boxberger notched his 24th save, which is the second most first-half saves by any D-backs pitcher in franchise history. He trails Jose Valverde, who had 26 before the break in 2007. Valverde set the single-season franchise record that season with 47.

Video: ARI@ATL: Boxberger fans Acuna Jr. for the save

In the two days leading up to Sunday's finale, the D-backs' pitching staff has kept the Braves scoreless through 17 innings. And according to Lovullo, everyone in the bullpen is still available to have a go at the Braves on Sunday.

This could not be farther from where the club was after last Sunday, but with the success of the series in Atlanta and with the All-Star break mere hours away, the D-backs like where they are.

"This," Lovullo said, "will give us a good push into the second half of the season."

Tori McElhaney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.

Arizona Diamondbacks