Kelly, Escobar lead Diamondbacks over Cubs 6-4

Jul 18, 2021, 4:33 AM | Updated: 6:16 pm

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Diamondbacks have been a bad baseball team for a big chunk of this season and own the worst record in the majors to prove it.

The only exception — at least in recent weeks — is when Merrill Kelly takes the mound.

Kelly threw eight efficient innings, Eduardo Escobar hit a two-run homer and the Arizona Diamondbacks avoided a three-game sweep with a 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

Kelly (6-7) needed just 75 pitches to navigate the Cubs’ lineup through eight innings and threw 59 strikes.

“It’s what I try to do,” Kelly said. “Get quick outs, be efficient. I’m not the 95, 98 mile per hour guy who punches everyone out.”

Kelly was helped by two spectacular catches by Kole Calhoun. The right fielder made a diving grab on Patrick Wisdom’s sinking line drive in the second inning and saved an extra-base hit in the third when he chased down Anthony Rizzo’s long drive into the right-field corner.

“He looks like Superman out there,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.

Kelly was pulled in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double to Kris Bryant and an RBI single to Javier Baez. The right-hander gave up four runs and six hits, struck out six and walked none while throwing 82 pitches.

The D-backs have won five of the past six games Kelly has started.

“It’s a belief in the game plan, it’s conviction with his pitches and trusting the guys around him,” Lovullo said. “It starts and stops with starting pitching each night. … He’s as good as we’ve got.”

Arizona was able to take advantage of a sloppy performance by Chicago’s pitchers with 11 walks. Joakim Soria earned his fourth save, one day after blowing a 2-1 lead by giving up three runs in the ninth.

Willson Contreras — who had the big two-run homer in the ninth off Soria on Saturday — struck out looking on a full-count breaking ball right down the middle to end Sunday’s game.

Christian Walker and Nick Ahmed both had two hits. Josh Rojas reached base five times, walking four times. Escobar’s homer was his 21st of the season and put the Diamondbacks ahead 6-2 in the eighth.

Cubs starter Zach Davies gave up two runs over 4 2/3 innings. He gave up six hits, walked four and struck out three. Manager David Ross said he was pleased his lineup continued to fight through nine innings but couldn’t overcome all the walks from his pitchers.

“The free passes are frustrating but other than that we’re playing pretty good baseball,” Ross said.

Arizona pushed ahead 4-2 with two runs in the seventh after Cubs pitcher Dan Winkler (1-2) loaded the bases with one out by walking Eduardo Escobar, hitting Walker with a pitch and walking Pavin Smith. Ahmed got an RBI when he hit a weak ground ball that scored Escobar. Walker scored when Rex Brothers threw a wild pitch.

Arizona led 2-0 after five innings but the Cubs tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth. Robinson Chirinos led off the inning with a ground rule double and Bryant drove him home with two outs by slicing a long double into the right-field corner. Javier Báez followed with a line drive single that scored Bryant.

ODD DOUBLE PLAY

The Diamondbacks left the bases loaded for the third time of the game in the seventh after a strange double play ended the inning.

Calhoun hit a grounder to first and Rizzo immediately fired home to get a force out. Calhoun had to dive out of the way of Rizzo’s throw and didn’t jump back up immediately, which gave Chirinos time to throw to Rizzo at first for the double play.

Calhoun said it was a strange, confusing play and it was his fault he didn’t scramble immediately to first after diving to the ground.

“You win the ball game and it’s easy to laugh off,” Calhoun said.

MAKING MOVES

The Cubs claimed 1B Frank Schwindel off waivers from the Oakland A’s and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa. The 29-year-old Schwindel was 3 of 20 (.150) for the A’s this year with one homer.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Diamondbacks: OF Ketel Marte and INF Asdrúbal Cabrera both did agility work on the field before the game. Both players are recovering from hamstring injuries.

UP NEXT

The Cubs stay on the road and start a four-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. Chicago will start RHP Alec Mills (4-2, 4.84 ERA). He will face St. Louis RHP Jake Woodford (1-1, 4.62)

The Diamondbacks host a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates beginning Monday. Arizona will send LHP Caleb Smith (2-6, 4.54) to the mound to face Pittsburgh RHP Chase De Jong (1-3, 5.59).

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam drives to the basket past Portland Trail Blazers forward Jera...
Associated Press

Achiuwa leads Raptors to 123-105 win over Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Precious Achiuwa scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in place of the injured OG Anunoby to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 123-105 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night. Pascal Siakam scored 24 points and Gary Trent Jr. added 19 against his former team for the Raptors, […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Gaudreau secures shootout win as Wild beat Buffalo 3-2

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Mats Zuccarello, Kirill Kaprizov and Freddy Gaudreau scored in the shootout, lifting the Minnesota Wild past the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Saturday night. Joel Eriksson Ek and Jared Spurgeon had goals in regulation for Minnesota, which headed into the All-Star break with two wins in a row. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped […]
22 hours ago
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (6) drives for the basket in front of Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown...
Associated Press

Brown forces OT, Celtics snap skid by beating LA 125-121

BOSTON (AP) — Jaylen Brown scored 37 points, completing a tying three-point play with 4.1 seconds left in regulation and adding 11 more in overtime as the NBA-leading Boston Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the archrival Los Angeles Lakers 125-121 on Saturday night. Brown added nine rebounds, Jayson Tatum had 30 points […]
22 hours ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) has a shot blocked by Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler...
Associated Press

Jazz hold off late rally, beat Doncic-less Mavericks 108-100

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Lauri Markkanen scored 29 points, Malik Beasley added 19 and the Utah Jazz took advantage of Dallas star Luka Doncic’s absence to beat the Mavericks 108-100 on Saturday night. Doncic sat out because of a sprained left ankle. Jordan Clarkson added 14 points for Utah, and Walker Kessler had 14 […]
22 hours ago
Washington Wizards guard Monte Morris (22) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3...
Associated Press

Gafford double-double leads Wizards past Pelicans 113-103

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Daniel Gafford had a season-high 21 points to go with 12 rebounds and five blocked shots, and the Washington Wizards beat the reeling New Orleans Pelicans 113-103 on Saturday night for their fifth straight victory. “No matter what, I just kept playing,” said Gafford, whose production helped mitigate the absence of […]
22 hours ago
Phoenix Suns' Deandre Ayton (22) and San Antonio Spurs' Jakob Poeltl, left, grab for a rebound duri...
Associated Press

Paul, Bridges help Suns escape Spurs in overtime, 121-116

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Chris Paul scored 31 points, Mikal Bridges had 25 and the Phoenix Suns escaped with a 128-118 overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night. San Antonio never led and trailed by 13 early in the fourth quarter, but forced overtime with an 18-7 run in the final four […]
22 hours ago
Kelly, Escobar lead Diamondbacks over Cubs 6-4