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Relentless D-backs top Cubs for 5th straight win

@SteveGilbertMLB
April 27, 2019

PHOENIX -- The D-backs’ offense came at Kyle Hendricks in waves on Friday night, seldom allowing the right-hander to settle into a groove. In every inning but one, the D-backs managed to put at least one runner in scoring position, creating the kind of relentless offensive approach they’ve aimed for

PHOENIX -- The D-backs’ offense came at Kyle Hendricks in waves on Friday night, seldom allowing the right-hander to settle into a groove.

In every inning but one, the D-backs managed to put at least one runner in scoring position, creating the kind of relentless offensive approach they’ve aimed for all season.

It added up to an 8-3 win over the Cubs at Chase Field, the D-backs’ 10th win in their last 12 games.

“We’ve just been grinding,” said outfielder Adam Jones, who had three hits and two RBIs on the night. “That’s pretty much what it is. Passing the baton and trying to have good at-bats. It’s just a matter of playing the game right, playing it together and pushing the next guy and pushing the guy in front of you. If you don’t get a hit, make sure you’re on the top [dugout] step pushing the guy at the plate.”

Arizona entered the day leading the National League in batting average, slugging percentage and extra-base hits. Only the Dodgers have scored more runs.

Even more impressive considering that the D-backs lost outfielder A.J. Pollock to free agency and traded All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

“We’re not doing it by accident,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We’re engaged with our hitting coaches, talking baseball, learning, sharing and applying. And it’s translated. To be totally honest with you, there were a lot of unknowns early in the season. When we started out in late March, we were minus some really key components and I was curious to see where we were going to keep pushing and how it was going to land us. I think we’ve answered a lot of those questions.”

All three of the D-backs’ hitting coaches departed after last season, with the team not renewing the contract of Dave Magadan and assistant hitting coach Tim Laker and hitting strategist Robert Van Scoyoc receiving top jobs with the Mariners and Dodgers.

New D-backs hitting coach Darnell Coles, assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske and run production coordinator Drew Hedman have worked seamlessly in taking the voluminous amount of information available and boiling it down into a way that each player understands.

“They’ve created a really good work environment,” Lovullo said. “There’s a lot of communication between three hitting coaches and one player.”

The D-backs’ game plan against Hendricks (1-4) was different than it was exactly a week before, when he handcuffed them over seven shutout innings at Wrigley Field.

“I think we were just a little more aggressive,” Jones said. “Last time, we allowed him to get strike one, and when you allow a pitcher to get strike one, he gets comfortable. So I think we were just a little more aggressive and put the ball in play and found some holes.”

The D-backs’ relentlessness paid off in the fifth after Javier Baez’s homer cut their lead to 4-3.

Hendricks pitched around a one-out walk in the fourth, and it seemed like maybe he might settle in when he retired the first two in the fifth.

That, however, was followed by a single, a walk, a single and a triple as the D-backs put the game away with their second three-run inning.

“Two outs in the fifth, nobody on,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We could have survived that fourth, but that three-spot there really hurt. If we had gotten out of that inning, then I could have utilized the bullpen maybe differently. As a hitter, you have a different perspective walking up there, they have to use their bullpen differently. That was the big thing.”

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