PHOENIX -- When he goes up to the plate, D-backs pitcher Zack Greinke isn't looking to just grip it and rip it.The veteran studies opposing pitchers just like he does hitters, and when you combine that with his athleticism, it should not be a surprise that he gets his share
PHOENIX -- When he goes up to the plate, D-backs pitcher Zack Greinke isn't looking to just grip it and rip it.
The veteran studies opposing pitchers just like he does hitters, and when you combine that with his athleticism, it should not be a surprise that he gets his share of hits.
On Thursday night, Greinke drove in his team's only run -- and stole a base to boot -- and tossed seven-plus outstanding innings, but it was not enough as the Nationals beat the D-backs, 2-1, in 11 innings.
"Offensively, he's always talking about a plan," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of Greinke. "He always wants to go over the pitches and the out-pitches [of the opposing pitcher] with the hitting coach, and he can counterpunch some things."
While the Arizona offense has not performed as expected for much of the season, Greinke has been on a roll at the plate. Over his last three starts, he is 4-for-6 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs.
"Maybe just trying not to hit homers and just trying to hit the ball hard and not even that, just trying to hit the ball," Greinke said of his approach recently. "And I've been doing good the past three or four games. I don't know how long it will last for, but I've been hitting the ball pretty good."
With two outs and Ketel Marte on second in the fifth inning, Greinke fouled off a 2-2 curveball from Tanner Roark before looping a slider into left to score Marte.
With the left-handed-hitting David Peralta up next, the Nationals decided not to hold Greinke on at first and he stole second, sliding in safely.
"It doesn't surprise me," D-backs reliever Archie Bradley said. "I mean, Zack is one of a kind when it comes to being an all-around baseball player."
In the dugout, Lovullo cringed when he saw Greinke slide a little late into second base.
"When you get a little bit close to the bag like that you feel like he could roll an ankle," Lovullo said. "It's an instinctual play. We didn't tell him to steal. He did it on his own."
Greinke wasn't concerned with being caught stealing in that situation.
"As a pitcher, the expectations are really low of you so if you do something bad, that's kind of what's expected," he said.
On the mound, Greinke seemed to have his full arsenal, working, particularly his fastball, which touched 92 mph with a good downward tilt.
The Nationals scraped out a couple of singles in the game's first two innings, but they didn't get a runner to second base against Greinke until Howie Kendrick's two-out double in the seventh.
When the Nationals finally got the tying run home in the eighth on a balk by Bradley, Greinke's chance for a win disappeared.
"He did exactly what we wanted him to, but unfortunately we couldn't really execute and close it out," Lovullo said. "We had some opportunities offensively, but couldn't push across a run to end the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Can't get them in: The D-backs had a chance to end the game in the 10th, but could not capitalize. Pinch-hitter Jarrod Dyson got a one-out single, but was cut down trying to steal and after Peralta walked and Daniel Descalso doubled, the D-backs had runners at second and third for Paul Goldschmidt, who grounded out to end the frame.
"The offense is not necessarily clicking at the level we expected, but we're still winning games," Lovullo said. "There are a lot of close calls, a lot of close ballgames and every move and every thought that you have matters. Every pitch matters, every at-bat matters. It's stressful."
Greinke has stolen six bases in his career and the last one prior to Thursday came on June 23, 2016, against the Rockies at Coors Field.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Nationals scored the tying run when Bradley balked home Michael A. Taylor. Bradley thought he saw the sign for the pickoff at third, but when he stepped towards third, he realized that third baseman Descalso was not near the bag, which resulted in a balk.
"Really, it's all on me," Bradley said. "I just mistook a sign for what I thought was a pick play. I know we don't really ever run it, but just in the circumstance I thought I saw something, I acknowledged the sign back and unfortunately I was wrong. It's unfortunate to kind of spoil what Zack did, and to end up losing the game makes it hurt a little more."
HE SAID IT
"We mixed and matched as best we could in the 11th inning and they rolled the ball through the infield for a base hit. So a lot of frustration, a lot of things did not go the way we wanted to today." -- Lovullo, on Matt Adams' game-winning single
For the third straight start, D-backs right-hander Matt Koch will face a former Cy Young Award winner. In his previous two outings, Koch started against Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander. On Friday, he draws Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer for the 6:40 p.m. PT start.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.