PHOENIX -- D-backs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. is getting back into the flow, as his season-high three hits -- and perhaps more so the approach that led to them -- demonstrated Saturday.It was not enough to lift Arizona past another game-deciding pinch-hit homer in a 6-5 loss to the
PHOENIX -- D-backs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. is getting back into the flow, as his season-high three hits -- and perhaps more so the approach that led to them -- demonstrated Saturday.
It was not enough to lift Arizona past another game-deciding pinch-hit homer in a 6-5 loss to the Rockies, but it is a sign that the D-backs are close to seeing the Souza Jr. they envisioned before a pectoral muscle injury curtailed the first half of his season.
"It was nice to see his approach -- middle of the diamond, all over the diamond," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.
Souza Jr. had RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings when Arizona staked Zack Godley to a 4-2 lead, but Godley ran into trouble after his throwing error to open the sixth inning. Colorado eventually tied it and then took the lead on Tom Murphy's homer off Yoshihisa Hirano in the eighth.
The D-backs (53-46) have lost 12 of their last 18 to drop into third place in the tight NL West behind the Dodgers (54-44) and the Rockies (53-45).
At the same time, the D-backs have had their projected middle-of-the-order bats together for only the past two weeks because of injuries to Souza Jr., Jake Lamb and A.J. Pollock, giving them reason for optimism.
"I know this is a little cliche, but I love the way we are fighting," Souza Jr. said. "I have a lot of faith that we are going to be just fine if we keep playing like this."
That includes a healthy Souza Jr., who has had two stints on the disabled list because of his pectoral injury sustained in the final week of Spring Training. He is important to the D-backs' ability to repeat as a playoff team.
Souza Jr. has hit safely in five of his last six starts after rejoining the team July 5, and he has nine hits and four walks in his last 28 plate appearances on either side of the break, a .464 on-base percentage.
"It's just great to be healthy and get back in the flow of the game," Souza Jr. said. "That's something that goes misrepresented when you go on the DL. It is not just the at-bats you miss, but it's the flow of the game, the get up, get down. Your daily routine. Long innings. Just getting back into the idea of seeing pitchers and all that. It's been a lot of fun to be healthy."
Souza Jr. hit a bases-loaded RBI single to drive in the D-backs' first run of a three-run fourth inning, and he lined a sinking single off third baseman Nolan Arenado's glove for a two-out RBI for a 4-2 lead in the fifth.
"I just pictured 'Q' [coach Humberto Quintero] throwing me my little balls out there and chucking them as hard as he can," Souza Jr. said.
"Just had some fun. Wasn't trying to do too much, because the guys in front of me were putting together some really good at-bats and really wearing down [Rockies starter Kyle] Freeland. [Ketel] Marte had a good game again. Pollock working some walks. Everybody really set the table for me to come up with runners in scoring position."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Unsatisfying ending:Nick Ahmed argued for at least a minute after being called out on strikes with runners on first and second to end the game, and teammates said his dissatisfaction was warranted.
"Kind of ridiculous," said Souza Jr., who was on first base after drawing a walk against Rockies closer Wade Davis. "If you go back and look at the video, that ball should not be called a strike.
"Paul [Nauert, home plate umpire] has to do better than that. It wasn't close at all. It may have been inside the chalk line. I know it's a tough job, and I'm not saying it's easy, but in those crucial moments right there, everybody has to lock it in."
Souza Jr. approached home plate as Ahmed was making his case.
"I wanted to hear what Paul had to say about it," Souza Jr. said. "He told Nick that he [Ahmed] was so wrong, he couldn't have been more wrong on the pitch."
Heads-up baserunning: Paul Goldschmidt showed more of his base-running savvy to score the D-backs' second run in a three-run fourth inning. Ahmed hit a foul pop up behind first base with the bases loaded and Goldschmidt took off from third after first baseman Ian Desmond caught the ball over his shoulder running away from the infield. Desmond whirled and threw in one motion, but could not get much on an off-line throw as Goldschmidt slid in.
"We're playing the game the right way," Lovullo said "We're ready to pounce on different situations that are going to allow us to win a moment. We took advantage of some aggressive baserunning. But that's what we do. We tee it up as high as we can."
HE SAID IT
"We asked a little bit more of Yoshi today. He just made a mistake to a hitter that squared up a split in the middle of the zone. You have to give the hitters credit," -- Lovullo, on Hirano, who pitched a season-high 1 2/3 innings and allowed Murphy's two-out homer in the eighth inning
Zack Greinke (10-5, 3.18 ERA) will be on the mound in the series finale vs. the Rockies on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. MT. He has given up only four runs in his last 31 2/3 innings, and his 3.18 ERA is the lowest it has been since early April. The Rockies will counter with Antonio Senzatela (3-2, 5.34).
Jack Magruder is a contributor to MLB.com based in Phoenix.