Pollock, Diamondbacks defeat Nats in series opener 5-4
WASHINGTON (AP) — Arizona outfielder A.J. Pollock helped Arizona with his bat and glove.
He homered and scored three runs and made a diving catch as the Diamondbacks beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 on Friday night in the opener of a three-game set.
“I think A.J. was unbelievable all around today — at the plate and in the field,” Arizona pitcher Zack Godley said. “There were also some other really good plays made behind me, but A.J. was lights out tonight.”
The NL West-leading Diamondbacks have won five of six and are now 9-4 on the road. That matches Arizona’s 2000 team for the best road start in franchise history.
Godley (4-1) allowed four runs on 10 hits over five innings to improve to 3-0 lifetime at Nationals Park. The Arizona bullpen retired 12 of the 13 batters it faced, with Brad Boxberger working a perfect ninth for his seventh save in as many attempts.
“It just seemed like one thing after another went our way,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “We took advantage of some key situations and won the game.”
Pollock homered off Washington starter Stephen Strasburg (2-3) to lead off the second, then singled and scored on Daniel Descalso’s double in the fourth. After Paul Goldschmidt’s flare over first base to lead off the sixth landed just inside the foul line, Pollock belted a triple off the wall in right-center to tie it and scored the go-ahead run on Descalso’s sacrifice fly.
Pollock also helped stymie a Washington rally in the fifth. The Nationals loaded the bases to open the inning, and Pollock made a diving grab in center on Wilmer Difo’s fly ball to limit the damage to a sacrifice fly. Godley then retired the next two batters to keep Arizona within 4-3 entering the sixth.
“Just trying to make a play out there for the pitchers,” Pollock said. “They’ve done really well for us. I had a good break on it and it was definitely a play in the game where if you make a play for us there, you never know. You could limit some damage and get back in and hit.”
Strasburg allowed a season-high five runs over 6 1/3 innings for Washington, which has lost five of its last six.
Washington left 10 runners on base, all but one of them in the first five innings. Arizona left only two men on.
“They capitalized when they got guys on base and that’s something that you’ve got do to,” Strasburg said.
Howie Kendrick hit a two-run homer in the third inning for Washington, which fell to 3-8 at home.
INF Mark Reynolds’ minor league contract with Washington includes a $1.5 million base salary if he is added to the 40-man roster. He could earn $2 million in performances bonuses based on plate appearances: $250,000 for 200, and an additional $250,000 for each additional 40 through 480.
PATIENCE IS KEY
Washington OF Bryce Harper has walked 34 times, including twice Friday, five shy of Barry Bonds’ 2004 record for the most ever by the end of April. But Harper also struck out with the bases loaded in the fourth and was retired on one pitch in both of his last two at-bats.
“My big thing with Harper (is), ‘Hey take your walks,’” manager Dave Martinez said. “We talk and preach about being a better teammate, that’s part of it —take your walks for the next guy. Count on the next guy to try and drive you in, and Harper’s been good with that.”
Diamondbacks: RHP Shelby Miller threw 25 pitches of live batting practice as he continues his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery. He last pitched April 23, 2017. “He said he felt fantastic,” Lovullo said. “That was really encouraging.” 3B Jake Lamb (left shoulder sprain) has thrown on consecutive days. ... Lovullo said RHP Randall Delgado (oblique strain) threw at 90 feet and felt good.
Nationals: OF Adam Eaton, who has not played since April 8 because of a bone bruise, was re-evaluated Friday. “His ankle has been improving so we’re hopeful that it’s not too far down the road,” general manager Mike Rizzo said.
Diamondbacks: LHP Patrick Corbin (4-0, 1.89 ERA), who is striking out 12.96 batters per nine innings, takes the hill Saturday in the second of a three game-series.
Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 4.50 ERA) makes his first home start of the season. He’s 0-3 with a 5.32 ERA in four career starts against Arizona.
This story has been corrected to show the proper spelling of A.J. Pollock’s last name.