PHOENIX (AP) — For the first time in months, the Arizona Diamondbacks are not the worst team in baseball. And they’re making some playoff contenders miserable.
“I can’t say enough good things about what this team has done,” manager Torey Lovullo said after the Diamondbacks beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 on Thursday to complete a three-game series sweep.
Madison Bumgarner (7-7) continued his strong pitching since returning from the injured list last month. The left-hander went eight innings, giving up three hits and one run to beat Phillies ace Zack Wheeler. He even contributed an RBI single in a five-run seventh inning.
The win completed a 6-1 homestand that saw the Diamondbacks take three of four from the San Diego Padres, who currently hold the second wild card in the National League. That series included a no-hitter from Tyler Gilbert.
The Diamondbacks’ better play of late has coincided with Bumgarner’s return from the injured list. Bumgarner is 3-2 with a 1.93 ERA in seven starts since then.
“Everything was working today,” Bumgarner said. “Kept that same feel that we’ve had going. Quick outs, weak contact, faster-paced game.”
Arizona (41-81) went through 15- and 17-game losing streaks earlier this season, and at one point lost 24 straight on the road to set a major league record. But the Diamondbacks are 15-15 since the All-Star break and have moved ahead of Baltimore (38-82).
“We were being mentioned in some historic lows and that had me sleepless,” Lovullo said.
While it hasn’t reached that level of frustration for the Phillies, they are struggling at a particularly bad time.
After sweeping the then first-place Mets to take a two-game lead in the division on Aug. 8, Philadelphia has lost seven of nine to fall four games behind Atlanta in the standings. In that streak, the Phillies have been held to two runs or fewer in seven of the games.
They had six hits in the final two innings Thursday, but only scored once in each inning and stranded five — including the bases loaded with the tying run at the plate in the ninth.
“Every team goes through it,” manager Joe Girardi said. “But we haven’t been hitting for 10 days. It’s costing us.”
Jean Segura led off the game with a double to left, but never advanced and Bumgarner didn’t give up another hit until Ronald Torreyes’ double in the eighth.
Nick Ahmed and Josh VanMeter had two-run doubles in the fifth.
Wheeler pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and six runs. He walked one and fanned seven, bringing his major league-leading strikeout total to 194.
The game was played with three umpires. Mark Ripperger did not work for unspecified reasons. Plate umpire Tom Hallion took a foul ball off his mask in the seventh but stayed in after being checked out.
Lovullo reiterated his stance on the ejection of left-hander Caleb Smith on Wednesday night for having an illegal substance in his glove.
“I think Caleb said it best. He is not a cheater, doesn’t believe in cheating. I will continue to stand by him,” Lovullo said before Thursday’s game.
Smith could be the second pitcher suspended, following Seattle’s Hector Santiago, for having a sticky substance in his glove. The glove was confiscated after Smith came off the field following the eighth inning Wednesday night and is being reviewed by the league office in New York.
“He’s still here, still on the roster. I’ll keep putting him on the lineup card until I hear otherwise,” Lovullo said.
If Smith is suspended, he would miss 10 games and Arizona would not be able to replace him on the 26-man active roster.
One day after pitching into the sixth inning and earning his first major league victory, Humberto Castellanos was sent back to Triple-A Reno. Reliever Noe Ramirez was activated from the injured list.
“It’s a tough call. He threw a great ballgame for us Wednesday,” Lovullo said. “I’m sure we’ll see him back here.”
Phillies: CF Odubel Herrera left the game after being hit on the right elbow by a pitch in the eighth. He stayed in the game on the bases but was replaced by Travis Jankowski in the next half-inning. Girardi said Herrera was getting X-rays after the game but the results were not yet known. SS Didi Gregorius was hit on the left elbow by a pitch in the fifth but remained in the game.
Diamondbacks: Pitching coach Matt Herges is back with the team after a seven-day quarantine for COVID-19.
Phillies: Matt Moore (2-3, 6.07) opposes fellow left-hander Blake Snell (6-4, 4.80) at San Diego Friday night.
Diamondbacks: Begin a 10-game trip Friday night in Colorado. Gilbert (1-1, 0.00) pitches for the first time since his no-hitter and faces Rockies LHP Austin Gomber (9-7, 4.09).