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Walker strong in return as D-backs nip Tigers

MLB.com

DETROIT -- Taijuan Walker returned from the disabled list with a powerful five-inning performance to lead Arizona to a 2-1 win over Detroit on Wednesday night at Comerica Park. Jordan Zimmermann, despite landing on the wrong end of a pitchers' duel, tossed a season-high eight innings with six strikeouts, allowing two runs on six hits and no walks.

Walker (5-3), who last pitched May 19 and was sidelined with a blister on his right index finger, struck out five of the first eight Tigers hitters he faced. He also put nine of the first 10 batters into two-strike counts. A two-out RBI single in the third inning by Alex Avila was Walker's only blemish, as the righty allowed just the one run on six hits and a walk with six strikeouts.

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DETROIT -- Taijuan Walker returned from the disabled list with a powerful five-inning performance to lead Arizona to a 2-1 win over Detroit on Wednesday night at Comerica Park. Jordan Zimmermann, despite landing on the wrong end of a pitchers' duel, tossed a season-high eight innings with six strikeouts, allowing two runs on six hits and no walks.

Walker (5-3), who last pitched May 19 and was sidelined with a blister on his right index finger, struck out five of the first eight Tigers hitters he faced. He also put nine of the first 10 batters into two-strike counts. A two-out RBI single in the third inning by Alex Avila was Walker's only blemish, as the righty allowed just the one run on six hits and a walk with six strikeouts.

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Video: ARI@DET: Avila singles to left and scores Kinsler

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said he was happy to see Walker deliver a solid performance after shaking off a little rust in the first inning. Walker was throwing his fastball in the mid-90s, something Lovullo knew he was capable of, just not necessarily expecting fresh off of a DL stint.

"It looked like some of his fastballs had a little extra gear on it to me," Lovullo said. "And there's been a little bit of down time. He's been staying in shape. It's not anything that caught us by surprise because he has that. It was just nice to see him execute some pitches in key moments."

Walker said his finger held up nicely in his first trip back to the mound, and he was just happy to get an early lead, albeit a small one, so he could attack Tigers hitters after shaking off the first-inning rust.

"I was definitely nervous," Walker said. "Even warming up, I don't know why I was so nervous. First game back, but after the first inning I felt a lot better and more comfortable."

Zimmermann (5-5) continued to pitch well since claiming to have found his slider three starts ago. After allowing two runs in the first inning on four hits, he retired 20 of his final 21 batters.

"The first inning I gave up four hits, a little blooper and, really, three ground balls that got through the hole," Zimmermann said. "Other than that, I felt like my stuff was the best it's been in a Tigers uniform."

Video: ARI@DET: Blanco races to third on Upton's error

Arizona struck twice in the first for the second straight night, but this time that was all its pitching staff needed. With the win, the D-backs won both games in Detroit and took the season series over the Tigers, three games to one. Arizona (41-26) has won seven of its past eight games, while Detroit (30-34) has lost five of its past six.

"We feel like we wasted an outing," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "There's not much we can do about it, so we'll move on."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Setting the tone: Gregor Blanco got things rolling in a hurry with a leadoff single, and he advanced all the way to third base when left fielder Justin Upton misplayed the ball on the bounce. Four pitches later, David Peralta drove Blanco in with a sacrifice fly. Brandon Drury drove in the second run of the inning with a single to left, but Upton redeemed himself by throwing out Chris Owings at home plate and keeping Arizona from doing more damage.

"I thought the key at-bat for us was the two-out hit that gave us our second run," said Lovullo, who was glad his team was able to get to Zimmermann before he settled in. "Give him some credit. He shut us down. I think at one point, it was 14 in a row. He looked like he had a real good blend of a fastball-slider combination and kept us in check."

Video: ARI@DET: Drury rips an RBI single to left field

Home runs that weren't: Down, 2-1, Detroit had two big swings in the game that nearly changed the outcome. First, J.D. Martinez hit a deep fly ball to right field on reliever Randall Delgado's first pitch in the sixth inning. The ball had a 105-mph exit velocity and an 80 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™, but it was caught at the warning track by Owings. Then in the seventh, Ian Kinsler hit a ball that cleared the 345-foot wall down the left-field line, but it hooked foul.

"J.D. crushed that ball to right field," Ausmus said. "The wind knocked it down. That didn't help."

Video: ARI@DET: Owings tracks down Martinez's deep fly ball

QUOTABLE
"You find out what type of team you have after 162 games. Not after 30, not after 60, not after 80. Sometimes teams have to make decisions because of a Trade Deadline looming, but we're not at that point yet." -- Ausmus, when asked if there's a heightening sense of urgency for the Tigers, who have not been above .500 since May 20

"We're winning one-run games on the road, and I think that's what teams do when they play into the end of the season and have meaningful games. We're doing a lot of things right. I'm very pleased with that. We came in here yesterday and won a tough game. We did it a little backwards yesterday, I know, but we won a one-run ballgame today, 2-1, against a very good offensive team." -- Lovullo, on the importance of starting off a road trip on the right foot

Video: ARI@DET: Rodney strikes out Romine to earn the save

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Zimmermann's eight-inning outing was the longest by a Tigers starter this season and his longest since June 19, 2016. Matthew Boyd previously held Detroit's longest start in 2017, throwing 7 2/3 innings on May 3.

WHAT'S NEXT
D-backs: The D-backs get a day off Thursday before opening a three-game weekend series at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Friday at 4:05 p.m. MST. Patrick Corbin (5-6, 5.38 ERA) takes the mound looking to build on a win in his last outing. It was the first time in seven starts that he did not allow a home run.

Tigers: Detroit stays home at Comerica Park for a four-game series beginning Thursday against Tampa Bay, a team that swept the Tigers in three games in mid-April. Justin Verlander (4-4, 4.68 ERA) starts for Detroit, looking to get back in the win column for the first time since May 20.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Tigers on Wednesday.

Kyle Beery is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the D-backs on Wednesday.

Taijuan Walker, Jordan Zimmermann