PHOENIX – Merrill Kelly pitched a seven-inning gem and helped the Arizona Diamondbacks finally end the worst losing streak in franchise history at 17 games with a 5-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night at Chase Field.
Ketel Marte was 2-for-4 with an RBI, a run scored, and a walk, extending his hitting streak to six games. He is hitting .440 with three doubles and seven RBIs over that span.
“I can’t describe that feeling,” manager Torey Lovullo said on the win.
“It’s just a good feeling to know that we did enough right, we did things our way, and we won a baseball game,” Lovullo said. “There’s excitement in that clubhouse, it’s well deserved, and it’s a night where I’m sure a lot of people inside of this organization are going to have a very, very good night’s rest.”
“We all deserve it,” Lovullo added.
The D-backs for once were running on all cylinders, with pitching, defense, and offense all locked in for the victory.
Kelly got the start on the mound, and things looked like it was once again going to be another uphill battle as he allowed a leadoff double to second baseman Kolten Wong in the first who then scored on an Avisail Garcia RBI single. D-backs were down 1-0 before their first at-bat.
Arizona has allowed 55 first inning earned runs this season.
But Arizona answered early with three runs on six singles in the bottom of the second inning. Pavin Smith, Stephen Vogt, and Marte all had RBI singles as they got the scoring carousel going with hit after hit.
As the D-backs started to roll in the second, Brewers starting pitcher Brett Anderson left the game with right knee discomfort.
D-backs hitters stayed aggressive against Milwaukee’s bullpen and added two more runs in the fourth on a Josh Rojas RBI double that scored Vogt and a groundout by Asdrubal Cabrera that scored Marte.
The real star of the game for the D-backs was Kelly and his cutter. Once he had a lead, the D-backs starting pitcher did not look back. He stayed ahead of batters and mixed his pitches between the cutter, four-seamer, and changeup nicely.
“His mix tonight was outstanding,” Vogt said on catching Kelly. “His cutter was the best it’s been all year. Probably the best cutter he’s had since early 2020 last season. But he was getting called strikes, swings and misses, weak contact, you name it with the cutter.
“Merill Kelly had an unbelievable game, by far the player of the game, and it was fun to be back there watching him from the best seat in the house while he was throwing that gem.”
Kelly logged clean innings in the third, fourth, and sixth and gave the D-backs a much-needed solid outing from a starter.
“I’m happy with it, not only for me but for the team,” Kelly said on his outing. “There’s a great energy in the clubhouse right now. Yeah, we needed it.
“I was glad I was able to give us something deep, something solid, to get us back in the column.”
Kelly lasted seven innings, registering his fifth quality start of the year. He allowed one earned run on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
He also had a walk at the plate and a sacrifice ground out that ended up being a part of an additional run scoring in the fourth.
“He had a great day today,” Lovullo said on his starter.
“He gave us seven unbelievable innings, and there was limited trouble,” the D-backs manager said. “He was making his pitches, he had a very good cut fastball tonight, and, on a night where we needed someone to step up and get the job done, I’m not surprised that it was Merrill.
“He was the story tonight for me. He deserves the credit for putting us on his shoulders and carrying us across the finish line.”
The bullpen, which could be described as erratic at best this season, handled closing up shop once Kelly’s day ended.
Noe Ramirez, who has been an outstanding addition to the bullpen since being acquired on June 18, pitched a scoreless eighth. Joakim Soria, who has had his ups and down, came in and shut it down in the ninth inning.
“I want this group to feel good about what they’ve done,” Lovullo said on his team’s performance.
“This incredible journey that we’ve all been on over the past several weeks, I can’t explain it. I can’t explain why it happened. But we need to enjoy it and come out and expect to win another baseball game tomorrow. That’s going to my message to them.”
The D-backs will try to win their first series in game two since their four-game set against the Colorado Rockies that started on April 29. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 40 minutes earlier on ESPN 620.
Zac Gallen will make his second start since returning from an elbow sprain that kept him sidelined since mid-May. Gallen is 1-2 with a 3.99 ERA, 35 strikeouts, and a 1.261 WHIP in six starts this season.