Hellickson holds off Padres with season-high 7 K's
D-backs starter exits early after tweaking back in 6th inning
PHOENIX -- D-backs starter Jeremy Hellickson has consistently provided the club with solid outings, even if he hasn't been able to complete seven innings yet this season.
It likely was going to happen in Sunday's 7-2 win over the Padres, until Hellickson tweaked his back when striking out to end the sixth inning.
"I think I'll be all right, maybe just going to be sore for a couple days," Hellickson said. "But I definitely don't think it will keep me from making my next start."
D-backs manager Chip Hale said the right-hander would receive treatment on Monday's off-day and will be re-evaluated over the next couple days before deciding if he'll make his next scheduled start.
Before his early exit, Hellickson cruised and protected the large lead his offense provided him with a seven-run second inning. The right-hander gave up two runs on six hits in six innings with a season-high seven strikeouts, winning for the fourth time in six starts and posting his sixth quality start in his last seven outings.
"[He's] just getting ahead, throwing strike one, and the breaking ball's starting to come back," Hale said. "The changeup's something that he's always had, I think he's starting to get more comfortable with it again."
Hellickson didn't allow a run in the first four innings, while also contributing to the seven-run rally with an RBI hit-by-pitch. He gave up his first run on an RBI double to Brett Wallace in the fifth.
Then in the sixth, Hellickson surrendered a single to Yonder Alonso and a ground-rule double to Justin Upton to lead off the inning. But he limited the damage, allowing just one run to score, which came on a sacrifice fly by Matt Kemp.
The right-hander threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 24 batters he faced.
"That's always a big part of keeping the pitch count down and getting early outs," Hellickson said. "Everything's feeling good right now, I'm able to throw strikes with all three of my pitches. I've just got to keep doing that."
The D-backs didn't have a baserunner after Jarrod Saltalamacchia's double in the third and their last 17 batters of the game were retired. Hellickson and reliever Andrew Chafin, who registered a three-inning save, made sure that wasn't an issue.
"We were able to keep a big lead there even when the offense couldn't add on, so [Hellickson] definitely picked us up today," D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said.
The D-backs took two out of three from the Padres and have won seven of their last 10. During that stretch, their starters are 7-3 with a 2.54 ERA.
"Those guys have been doing a great job of really keeping us in the game early, and you saw the games where we weren't, we struggled," Hale said. "I think that's where it all starts."