The Arizona Diamondbacks will try and maintain a hold of the National League West Division lead on Monday when they open a three-game set against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates at Chase Field.
Arizona has won four in a row to claim an early share of the division lead along with the Colorado Rockies, winners of five straight. The Diamondbacks are off to a 5-1 start for only the third time in franchise history.
Taking the hill for the Diamondbacks is right-hander Trevor Cahill, who took the loss against St. Louis this past Tuesday after yielding three runs in 5 2/3 innings. He was sailing along until serving up a home run to Matt Holliday in the sixth on a pitch that was down in the strike zone. Still, Cahill did manage to fan seven batters.
He'll go to work against a Pittsburgh lineup that is last in the NL in hits (21) and team batting average (.119). Losers of four straight, the Pirates are at the bottom of the NL Central standings.
Southpaw Wandy Rodriguez was masterful in his season debut against the Chicago Cubs last Wednesday, as he tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings and allowed only two hits. Rodriguez issued only one walk and struck out six in that outing.
"I started to work earlier this year because of the (World Baseball) Classic, and as a result, I do feel stronger," Rodriguez said.
Arizona notched its fourth straight win with Sunday's 8-7 triumph at Milwaukee in 11 innings. J.J. Putz squandered the D'backs two-run lead in the ninth, but Eric Hinske later came through with a pinch-hit two-run blast in the 11th to complete the series sweep.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Hinske said. "It was a hanging breaking ball and it just kept going. That kind of surprised me too, how far I hit it. It felt great, I didn't even feel it hit the bat."
Entering play Sunday, Pittsburgh was the only team in the majors that had not allowed more than three runs in any game this season. But that streak ended following Sunday's 6-2 loss to the Dodgers. The Pirates managed just four hits, and their two runs came on a homer by Andrew McCutchen in the first inning.
The Bucs won four of seven last year against the D'backs.