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Ray's dominance making 'Robbie-watching' fun

Special to MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Moments after the phrase left his mouth, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo knew he was going to see it in upcoming headlines.

And he's right. Not just because "Robbie-watching" sounds fun, but because it's the perfect description for Robbie Ray starts of late.

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PHOENIX -- Moments after the phrase left his mouth, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo knew he was going to see it in upcoming headlines.

And he's right. Not just because "Robbie-watching" sounds fun, but because it's the perfect description for Robbie Ray starts of late.

View Full Game Coverage

"I've become a fan, too. That's what it means," Lovullo said after Ray's latest gem Sunday in an 11-1 D-backs victory over the Brewers at Chase Field. "I'm just watching in amazement at what he can do. He basically said, 'Boys, get on my back and let's go to work.'"

Ray struck out 12 and held the potent Brewers' offense scoreless for 6 2/3 innings before his offense broke open a one-run game. It was Ray's fifth straight strong start, and it has him in the conversation for a spot on the National League All-Star team next month.

The left-hander is 5-0 with a 0.24 ERA -- one earned run in 38 innings -- and 48 strikeouts in his past five starts. He has lowered his season ERA from 4.57 on May 19 to 2.62.

"I'm just going out there and trying to put up zeroes," said Ray, who got stronger as the game went on.

Sunday's performance marked Ray's ninth career start with at least 10 strikeouts, including five this season. He also became the first D-backs pitcher with 10-plus strikeouts in three straight games since Randy Johnson did so in four consecutive games in August 2004.

"Robbie once again was outstanding. He set a great tone for us," Lovullo said. "He's locked in. We're all Robbie-watching in the dugout and really enjoying what he's doing.

Video: MIL@ARI: Watch Ray's 12 K's in 12 seconds

"You can tell by the way he walks out to the mound, by the way he's preparing himself between starts, he's got tremendous focus and getting ready every fifth day to do something like this."

Such confidence helped Ray work out of a couple more jams than he faced in his previous four dominant outings.

He struck out Domingo Santana to end the third and strand runners at second and third. Then after Orlando Arcia doubled to lead off the fourth and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, Ray struck out Lewis Brinson and Eric Thames to end the threat and preserve a 1-0 lead.

Ray walked four, including the last two Brewers he faced in the seventh. Milwaukee loaded the bases on another walk by reliever J.J. Hoover before Jorge De La Rosa struck out Thames on three pitches to again maintain the one-run lead.

"There was a lot of excitement in the dugout," Lovullo said of De La Rosa's strikeout. "I think the guys were ready for that to happen. It's what you build up for, to have those moments. ... We're conditioned for those moments, and when you come through on the right side, it's a pretty emotional outburst." The D-backs clubbed three home runs as part of a five-run seventh, added five more in the eighth and won going away to close out a 5-1 homestand.

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the D-backs on Sunday.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Robbie Ray