Woodruff great on mound, adds big hit, Brewers beat D-backs
PHOENIX (AP) — Brandon Woodruff was pleased with the seven dominant innings he threw on Wednesday afternoon, though he didn’t really have that much to say about them.
Instead, like most pitchers, especially ones coming into the game with a .042 batting average, he wanted to talk about his hit.
Woodruff continued his terrific season on the mound and added an RBI single at the plate to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 3-2 win over the skidding Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I’m glad you brought that up,” Woodruff said, grinning when asked about his second hit of the season. “Ended up being the difference in the game so I’ll take it I guess.”
The hard-throwing Woodruff (6-3) gave up just three hits and one run. He walked two, struck out nine and also had a single in the fifth inning that scored Jace Peterson to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead. Milwaukee would never trail.
Woodruff has been a fairly good hitter throughout his career, coming into the season with a .253 batting average in 63 at-bats. But he’s struggled at the plate this year and was just 1 for 24 before Wednesday’s hit.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said Woodruff takes his hitting seriously and on the days he’s not pitching can often be found in the dugout with a bat in his hands.
“That was a big run,” Counsell said.
While Woodruff’s hitting has been a struggle this year, pitching hasn’t been a problem. He’s been one of the best in the big leagues this season, giving up just 51 hits in 95 innings. His ERA improved to 1.89. The 28-year-old overpowered many of the D-backs batters with fastballs and hard sinkers that were consistently around 95 to 98 mph.
“When he starts mixing, it makes it tough,” D-backs first baseman Christian Walker said. “He threw the ball well. We knew what we were up against. It was hard to get a rally going.”
Josh Hader worked a scoreless ninth for his 19th save.
Milwaukee pushed into sole possession of first place in the NL Central with a 42-33 record, one-half game in front of the Chicago Cubs.
The Diamondbacks have dropped 19 of their last 20 games and 42 of their past 48. Their record fell to 21-55 and they’re on pace to lose more than 115 times this season.
Left-hander Caleb Smith (2-3) took the loss despite a good outing, giving up just one run over six innings. He gave up four hits, walked four and struck out six. He’s been one of the team’s better pitchers since re-joining the rotation, giving up eight runs over 26 1/3 innings over five starts.
“To hold a team to one run, you’re expecting to win a baseball game,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “He just had someone on the other side matching his zeroes.”
Walker and Eduardo Escobar both hit solo homers for the D-backs. Escobar’s was his 16th of the season and the first of his career as a pinch-hitter. It was a no-doubter into the right-center seats and cut Milwaukee’s lead to 3-2 in the eighth.
Keston Hiura was called up from Triple-A Nashville to replace Daniel Vogelbach, who went on the 10-day injured list with a strained hamstring suffered on Tuesday.
Hiura was in the Brewers’ lineup on Wednesday, batting sixth and playing first base. He was hitless in three plate appearances and drew a walk.
The 24-year-old Hiura had a terrific rookie season in 2019 when he hit .303 with 19 homers. But he regressed in 2020 and has been even worse in 2021, batting .130 with one homer. He’s been excellent during his stint in Triple-A this season, batting .405 with five homers in 72 at-bats.
The Diamondbacks called up OF Nick Heath from Triple-A Reno. RHP Stefan Crichton was designated for assignment. Crichton has an 0-4 record this season with a 6.04 ERA in 29 appearances.
The Brewers get a break on Thursday before starting a homestand against Colorado on Friday. The Brewers will send RHP Corbin Burnes (3-4, 2.62 ERA) to the mound.
The Diamondbacks also are off Thursday before traveling to San Diego for a three-game series starting Friday. Arizona will be trying to snap a 23-game road losing streak, which is the longest in modern-day MLB history. The Diamondbacks will send RHP Corbin Martin (0-2, 8.62 ERA) to the mound. San Diego will counter with RHP Chris Paddack (4-5, 4.10).
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