The Arizona Diamondbacks take aim at their first three-game winning streak since late April when they face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night in Phoenix.
The Diamondbacks (28-68) have endured a miserable season and own the worst record in the league.
However, they are 5-5 over their past 10 games, including back-to-back victories after beating the Pirates 4-2 on Monday in the opener of a three-game series.
Arizona’s most-recent three-game winning streak came April 25-27. That occurred during a decent start in which the Diamondbacks stood at 15-13 on May 2 before losing 50 of their next 58 games.
The consecutive victories feel good to Arizona All-Star third baseman Eduardo Escobar, who smacked a two-run homer on Monday.
“We did a great job,” Escobar said afterward. “The future starts now, and it looks really good. I’m so happy we won again.”
Escobar also hit a two-run blast Sunday in Arizona’s 6-4 win over the visiting Chicago Cubs.
“I’m feeling great at home plate right now,” said Escobar, who has a team-leading 22 homers. “My swing is feeling so slow right now. … But helping the team win is the most important thing to me.”
Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton wasn’t thrilled with the location of Chase De Jong’s pitch to Escobar.
“When you go down and in to Escobar, you’re going to pay for it,” Shelton said.
Escobar could be one of the Arizona players on the move with the July 30 trade deadline approaching.
He wasn’t the only Diamondback to go deep on Monday. Pavin Smith and Josh VanMeter hit back-to-back homers in the second inning.
Pittsburgh has dropped two straight games after winning seven of its previous 10.
Monday’s loss saw the Pirates leave 11 runners on base and go 2-for-11 with men in scoring position.
Pittsburgh put two runners on in the ninth against Diamondbacks closer Joakim Soria before Bryan Reynolds lined to right and pinch hitter Gregory Polanco struck out to end the contest.
The Pirates also left the bases loaded twice, including in the seventh, when All-Star Adam Frazier fanned as a pinch hitter.
Pittsburgh’s lack of clutch hitting came after the Pirates scored 19 runs while winning two of three from the New York Mets over the weekend.
Frazier will be back in the starting lineup Tuesday, either at second base or in left field.
Shelton said Reynolds — the team’s other All-Star — will get a breather later in the week.
“As we’ve talked about a lot, we have to be mindful of where we are at, especially because of the fact that we’re coming out west, too,” Shelton said of a trip that concludes with three games in San Francisco.
Tyler Anderson (5-8, 4.35 ERA) will be on the mound Tuesday for the Pirates after winning his past two starts.
The 31-year-old left-hander blanked the Milwaukee Brewers on three hits over seven innings on July 4. He followed up by allowing two runs and six hits over five innings in a win over the Mets on July 10.
Anderson has struggled against the Diamondbacks, going 3-3 with a 6.27 ERA in 12 career appearances (10 starts). Nick Ahmed is 8-for-20 with two homers against Anderson while Escobar is 1-for-9.
Right-hander Taylor Widener (1-0, 2.54 ERA) will start Tuesday for the Diamondbacks.
Widener, 26, last pitched on July 9 prior to the All-Star break and gave up one run and three hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out five and walked two in a no-decision.
The appearance against the Dodgers was Widener’s first since injuring his right groin against the Colorado Rockies on May 23.
Widener has never faced Pittsburgh.
–Field Level Media