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D-backs can't overcome Greinke's shaky start

Offense can't break through despite many chances
April 7, 2018

ST. LOUIS -- Zack Greinke lost his way for a stretch of about three batters Saturday afternoon, and that was all that it took for the Cardinals to jump on him en route to a 5-3 win on a frigid day at Busch Stadium.The temperature was 37 degrees at first

ST. LOUIS -- Zack Greinke lost his way for a stretch of about three batters Saturday afternoon, and that was all that it took for the Cardinals to jump on him en route to a 5-3 win on a frigid day at Busch Stadium.
The temperature was 37 degrees at first pitch, the lowest for a Cardinals game in recorded history, with the wind chill making it feel like 29.
The D-backs came into the game hot, having won six of their first seven games, and they looked to be rolling again in the first inning when four of the first five hitters reached against Michael Wacha.
The right-hander, though, was able to work out of the jam with just one run scoring.
That would prove to be a sign of things to come as the D-backs went just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and they left nine men on base.
"I think we had an opportunity to jump on Wacha and really chip into him a little bit deeper than we did," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "He did us a favor, and we set up our innings by getting runners on base, we just couldn't capitalize. On the flip side of that, you have to give him a little bit of credit for getting the job done when he really had to."
Greinke (0-1) did his job as well except for a stretch in the third inning, when the Cardinals scored four runs to take a 5-2 lead.
Jose Martinez capped the inning with a three-run homer, but the Cardinals also got a double from William Fowler, and a pair of singles by Tommy Pham and Marcell Ozuna.
"Fowler had a good at-bat," Greinke said. "And 3-2, I threw a fastball and he got a hit. It was a good at-bat by him. He waited until I made a mistake. Pham, I made pretty good pitches to him, and he did a good job getting a hit. Then I started making some mistakes to the next three batters. [Matt] Carpenter, he lined out. Ozuna got a hit and then the Martinez home run. And then I started pitching good again. It was a bad three batters. It was an important three batters."
Greinke gave up a hit to Yadier Molina after the homer, but then retired the next eight hitters before Lovullo pulled him following a leadoff single in the sixth.
"I just felt with the leadoff single, we had to protect that a little bit," Lovullo said. "We just went to the bullpen to try and keep that deficit as short and small as possible."
Matt Koch and Noel Salas held the Cardinals at bay the rest of the way, but the offense could not find a way to break through.
"It's a good team that we're playing," outfielder A.J. Pollock said. "We left opportunities out there, but we'll be back at it tomorrow."
Heated bat: Martinez turned on an 0-2 fastball from Greinke when he cleared the bases in the third, rocketing it 406 feet and over the wall in left-center. Martinez's blast capped a rally that saw five of six Cardinals hitters reach. Dexter Fowler started it with a double, then Carpenter plated him with a sac fly after a Tommy Pham single. Ozuna singled in front of Martinez.
"I was just trying to locate a fastball down and away," Greinke said of the homer. "It's a good pitch to him. And then 0-2 you just try to make it quality, and it came out really bad."
Came close: The D-backs made things interesting as they brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the eighth, and the tying run to the plate in the ninth. All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt's struggles continued, though, when he struck out looking to end the game with Ketel Marte on second. Goldschmidt is now 3-for-26 on the season.
"We're playing good baseball," Pollock said. "And today we had a chance with Goldy up there to tie it. We'll take that, and we'll move forward."
"I could be wrong. Their team is always tough to strike out. They grind at-bats. That has something to do with it. Maybe the pitches weren't quite as good as they need to be. I still struck out five. But a lot of their guys know how to not strike out, unlike some teams. They don't chase a ton. And some of the guys who chase, like Yadi, he can chase like two feet outside and still touch the ball. So they're a little bit tougher." -- Greinke on the difficulty of striking out Cardinals batters
Both of the games the D-backs have lost this year were games started by Greinke. He started -- though was not charged with the loss -- in the third game of the season, a 2-1 loss to the Rockies at Chase Field.
The D-backs wrap up their three-game series with the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium. Taijuan Walker will start for the D-backs. In his first start of the year the right-hander allowed three runs in the first inning to the Dodgers, but then did not allow another run before leaving after five innings. The game wound up going 15 innings. Nick Ahmed is expected to be back in the Arizona lineup after being out for four games due to the flu.
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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.