OAKLAND -- The temperatures are rising in Phoenix these days and the D-backs are hoping that a return home will heat up their bats after the offense struggled again Sunday afternoon in a 2-1 loss to the A's at the Oakland Coliseum.With the loss, the D-backs finished their nine-game, three-city,
OAKLAND -- The temperatures are rising in Phoenix these days and the D-backs are hoping that a return home will heat up their bats after the offense struggled again Sunday afternoon in a 2-1 loss to the A's at the Oakland Coliseum.
With the loss, the D-backs finished their nine-game, three-city, cross-country trip with a 1-8 record. They scored just 18 runs over those games, seven of which came in their lone win Friday night against the A's.
"You go 1-8 on a road trip, it's tough," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "These guys care, and it bothers us because we care, but we're coming home and that's always a good thing and a good remedy for us."
While it's still early in the season -- there are 110 games left -- the D-backs have lost 15 of their last 17 games and their once formidable lead in the National League West is gone.
Arizona trails the first-place Rockies by 1 1/2 games and the Dodgers, who were once seemingly buried behind the D-backs, are now just two games behind them.
When the recent slide started, Lovullo talked about the wins the D-backs had "banked" early on providing a cushion. After a 21-8 start, the D-backs are now 26-26 and he was asked Sunday if that cushion was gone.
"Yeah, it's pretty obvious," he said. "We're .500 right now and the rest of the league has caught up and some have passed us. But we can't concern ourselves with that. We've got to take care of our own house."
The next six games are crucial for the D-backs. Not only are they returning home for them, but they are facing two last-place teams in the Reds and Marlins.
After that, it's back to divisional play with a trip to San Francisco and Denver.
"We're going through a really tough time right now as a team," outfielder David Peralta said. "It's just not going the way we want it to right now, but we have to keep together. We just have to keep together, we have to keep fighting every day and we have to play with the same mentality -- positive -- and things are going to turn. We're going to get out of the hole and we're going to be the D-backs that everybody knows."
To do that, the D-backs will need to get their offense going. For a team with the worst batting average in the game against fastballs, facing off against Frankie Montas and his blazing fastball was not an ideal matchup.
"He executed and made pitches and didn't really give us a chance to get extension and drive the baseball," Lovullo said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No crooked number: The D-backs' lone run of the game came in the sixth when Jake Lamb's sacrifice fly scored Peralta from third. That was all the damage the D-backs could do in the inning despite collecting three hits and having four baserunners.
"I felt like part of our lineup executed," Lovullo said. "We had a runner on base and we piled three hits into one inning and things were moving in a very good direction. Unfortunately, it just led to one run. Quality pitching can shut down those moments, and they did."
Lost command: D-backs starter Zack Greinke struck out the first two batters of the sixth inning before he lost his feel for the strike zone and issued back-to-back walks to Matt Olson and Chad Pinder. Matt Chapman then followed with an RBI single to left to drive in what proved to be the game-winning run.
"I think it just kind of happened," Olson said. "He's normally a guy that's around the zone a lot and he likes to work the edges. He just wasn't really hitting those edges that inning. We did a really good job of not chasing those pitches that could get us in bad situations. We got a couple walks and Chappy got the hit."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Peralta would not have been on base in the sixth to score Arizona's only run if it were not for instant replay. With Mathis on first, Peralta hit a grounder to second and Jed Lowrie threw to Marcus Semien for the force at second and Peralta was initially ruled out on the relay throw back to first. Lovullo issued a manager's challenge and the play was overturned and Peralta was safe at first.
The D-backs return home to open a three-game series against the Reds on Monday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. MST at Chase Field. Right-hander Matt Koch will get the start for the D-backs in his first career appearance against Cincinnati, which sends Homer Bailey to the hill. The game kicks off a six-game homestand that also includes three games with the Marlins.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.