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Souza homers, but D-backs' 'pen falters in loss

July 31, 2018

PHOENIX -- Sure, Steven Souza Jr. said the three-run homer he hit Monday night was nice, but in his mind, it didn't make up for his two strikeouts earlier in the game.Souza's second home run with the continued his good run at the plate and in the field, but it

PHOENIX -- Sure, Steven Souza Jr. said the three-run homer he hit Monday night was nice, but in his mind, it didn't make up for his two strikeouts earlier in the game.
Souza's second home run with the continued his good run at the plate and in the field, but it was not enough to overcome Arizona's bullpen struggles, as the Rangers rallied to hand the D-backs a 9-5 loss at Chase Field.
The loss snapped the D-backs' three-game winning streak, although they stayed a half-game behind the National League West-leading Dodgers thanks to Los Angeles' loss to the Brewers. Texas won its fourth straight, having swept the reigning World Series-champion Astros.
Souza was the team's biggest offseason acquisition, having been traded from the Rays to Arizona in a three-team deal that also included the Yankees. He injured his right pectoral muscle in Spring Training and spent the first month of the season on the disabled list. After a three-week return, he re-aggravated the injury and went back on the DL for six more weeks.
When Souza got back, he initially struggled to find his groove at the plate, but he entered Monday's game hitting .407 (11-for-27) over his previous seven games and helped win Sunday's game in San Diego with his defense in right field.
Souza's three-run homer in the fifth helped the D-backs reclaim a 4-3 lead, but it was the strikeout looking with two on in the first on a fastball down the middle and his strikeout in the fourth that tempered his excitement about the homer.
"I'm feeling OK," Souza said. "It's nice to get some hits, but I think there's more in there. Right now, it's an at-bat here that's nice and maybe a couple that maybe don't look so great. Really trying to push the limit and see what I can do. I know for us to go, I've got to step up, and I feel like this [loss] is on me tonight."

That's admirable to say, but this defeat belonged to the Arizona bullpen, which allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings.
The normally reliable Yoshihisa Hirano allowed a run, and the newly acquired Matt Andriese gave up three runs on six hits in his two innings of work. Andrew Chafin then gave up another run in the ninth.
"The bullpen just got nicked up," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "Piece by piece, they just couldn't make pitches when they had to, they couldn't get the big out and execute at the right time. It's just the nature of the game -- sometimes it happens the way you want it to and sometimes it doesn't."

Walking DeShields:Shin-Soo Choo hurt the D-backs with a pair of homers, the biggest being of which a three-run homer off Robbie Ray with two outs in the fifth. To Lovullo, though, it wasn't the homer that was the biggest plate appearance in the inning. Instead, he pointed to a one-out walk to Delino DeShields. After DeShields reached, Ray struck out Perez before Choo's two-out clout.
"We get out to the 1-0 lead, and Robbie looks locked in and he's throwing the ball extremely well," Lovullo said of the situation heading into the fifth. "I thought the key in that inning was the walk to DeShields, which created a matchup with Choo, and he's very good hitter against lefties or righties. It doesn't matter. [Ray] made a mistake out over the plate, and he paid for it."
Texas pounded out 12 hits but was aided by six walks, including four by Ray. Of the six Rangers who reached on a walk, four came around to score.
"You have to give this team credit across the way," Lovullo said of Texas. "They're very hot. They swung the bat well against Houston, we knew that coming in. I thought the 12 hits were maybe expected, but it was the walks I thought that killed us today. You just have to eliminate those and you limit the amount of baserunners and the traffic and I think you have a totally different game."

"You don't want to totally run from using him. He's a member of that bullpen. There's seven guys there, and as long as he's out there, I'm going to continue to use him. I need to help put him in the best situation possible. I'm going to give him the ball again, and he's going to have to go out there and perform. That's the nature of the game." -- Lovullo, on Andriese, who has allowed four runs in his first two appearances, spanning four innings, since being acquired from the Rays
The D-backs wrap up their brief two-game series with the Rangers on Tuesday night with Zack Godley on the mound. Godley (11-6, 4.73 ERA) took a no-decision in his last start against the Cubs when he allowed four runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. The Rangers will counter with veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon (5-9, 5.02).

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.