With extra motivation, Zack Greinke made sure to leave it all on the field. Seven shutout innings and three hits at the plate later, he did just that.
The Dodgers collected 17 hits in easily beating the first-place Diamondbacks on Monday, 6-1. The lead for Arizona is now down to 3 1/2 games in the NL West, with two games left in this series.
While the Dodgers had no problems gathering hits, it took until the fourth for them to score against Randall Delgado. With Hanley Ramirez on second and Andre Ethier on first from singles, Juan Uribe's RBI single made it 1-0.
In the fifth, Greinke's leadoff single led to a couple more runs. Yasiel Puig singled with one out, and Adrian Gonzalez brought one in with an RBI single. Ramirez followed with one of his own, and it was now 3-0.
Greinke wouldn't budge at all, and the Dodgers started to really separate themselves in the seventh. Gonzalez took a walk with one down, but Ramirez fouled out to first. Ethier doubled to the wall in right center to score one, and A.J. Ellis's RBI single gave them a comfortable 5-0 lead.
Paco Rodriguez took over for Greinke in the eighth and pitched perfect inning with a couple of K's. An RBI fielder's choice by Ellis in the ninth scored another. Jose Dominguez pitched the ninth and gave up a run on a double by Eric Chavez. Martin Prado flew out to end the game.
Greinke came into this game sporting a healthy 6-2 record, but with a 4.30 ERA. Considering the bad blood between these two teams, and that the Dodgers had to place both Matt Kemp and Stephen Fife on the DL before the game, it was a big start for him. Seven innings, two hits, no runs, two walks, and seven strikeouts later, he more than carried his team.
It's a good thing, too, because the Dodgers needed him to pitch better. He said he's been working on his mechanics, and it showed. I don't think everyone should expect Clayton Kershaw-like numbers, but when you're getting paid $147 million, you're expected to be an ace. Monday night, he showed everyone why a Kershaw-Greinke 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation can be so good.
Perhaps lost in all of the Puig hoopla is the hitting streak of Ramirez, which just reached 19 games. After pinch-hitting and striking out against the Pirates on June 16, he hasn't looked back since. At the time he was hitting .258 and looking somewhat lost; now he's hitting .419 and looking incredible. It's a shame he missed so much time earlier in the season, or he'd be an easy All-Star selection. Oh well.
Next up is Ricky Nolasco, who makes his Dodger debut on Tuesday. He's made five career starts at Chase Field with a solid 3-1 record, but with a sky-high 5.32 ERA. Perhaps he's been a bit unlucky, as his WHIP is low at 1.16 with a .242 BAA. Five homers surrendered have probably been his downfall.
Nolasco will be opposed by Ian Kennedy, who's a complete prick and apparently sees nothing wrong with throwing at not one, but two batters' heads. You know the Dodgers can't wait to step in there against him tonight. I can't wait to watch.