By: Kayla Mortellaro
PHOENIX, Ariz.— The Arizona Diamondbacks used great defensive plays, solid pitching and hot bats to take Sunday afternoon’s game from the Chicago Cubs, 4-3 at Chase Field.
Jeremy Hellickson got the start against his former manager Joe Maddon and pitched a solid 6.2 innings, giving up four hits, three earned runs with four strikeouts. Hellickson did give up two home runs on the afternoon, one off the bat of former Dbacks catcher Miguel Montero and the other was a two-run home run by Chris Coghlan.
Hellickson also had some help behind him from short stop Nick Ahmed, who seemed to assume the role of Houdini.
“Nick Ahmed was tremendous today,” manager Chip Hale said. “He changed the game defensively.”
Ahmed has slowly built a reputation within the team to be counted on to make great defensive plays and get tough outs.
“It’s probably not fair, because we expect him to make all these great plays and it’s just not that easy,” Hale said about Ahmed. “The stuff he does is just mind boggling every day.”
Ahmed tried to downplay his contributions in the infield and gave credit to his team.
“I just try to go out there and work hard at it every day, but we have a bunch of great defensive players out on our team,” Ahmed said. “I know I’m going to make errors and just lucky I have a guy like Goldy over there to pick balls out of the dirt sometimes and a pitching staff to pick me up if I do make an error.”
It’s no secret that Ahmed has struggled with the bat this season but during this series against the Cubs, he found some success. Ahmed hit a triple in the third inning, which would eventually get the Dbacks scoring started.
“I’m seeing the ball better, just simplified things, made the adjustment to keep my body quieter and see the baseball better,” Ahmed said about his improved batting.
With Ahmed just 90 feet from home plate, Hellickson stepped in to the batter’s box, hitting a sac-fly to center field for his first-ever major league RBI.
Paul Goldschmidt then continued the success of the third inning. With two outs and a 1-1 count, Goldy went deep off Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel to right-center field.
“I was looking for something I could hit hard and fortunately he made a mistake over the middle of the plate and I was able to get it out of there,” Goldschmidt said about his 12th homer of the season.
The Dbacks used Andrew Chafin for a third of an inning in the seventh and Addison Reed went 1-2-3 in the eighth inning. Hale’s decision to bring Reed on in middle innings and give Brad Ziegler the closer’s role seems to be working. Ziegler came on in the ninth inning to record his second save of the season.
The Dbacks took Friday night’s game in extra innings 5-4 but lost a tough one on Saturday night 9-6. The squad bounced back Sunday afternoon to ultimately take the series against the Cubs two games to one.
The Dbacks have won six of their last seven games to claw their way back to 21-22 on the season and sit in third in the NL West Division.
Arizona has a quick turnaround as the ball club heads out on a six-game road trip beginning Monday at 1:10 p.m. in St. Louis at Busch Stadium against the 28-16 Cardinals.