Things are starting to come around for the Arizona Diamondbacks and they are closing in on the top spot in the NL West.
Arizona will try to stay on track tonight in the opener of a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
The Diamondbacks are still five games off the division lead, but have won four in a row and five of their last six games. Arizona had a day of rest on Monday after sweeping the Chicago Cubs over the weekend and posted a 5-1 victory on Sunday behind eight strong innings from Wade Miley. Miley held the Cubs to a run and three hits, struck out seven batters and allowed one walk to improve to 9-3.
"He doesn't back down from anybody, he just throws strike one every time," D- backs catcher Miguel Montero said of Miley on the club's website. "He competes and believes in his stuff."
Justin Upton drove in three runs and Jason Kubel homered to back Miley's solid performance. Aaron Hill added two hits and an RBI in the win. Upton has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games, while Kubel has turned the trick in six consecutive contests. Hill has hit safely in 15 of 18 games since June 4 for a Diamondbacks team that in 14-7 this month.
Willie Bloomquist did not play Sunday and has hit safely in 24 games and reached base in 26 of the past 27.
Arizona starting pitcher Daniel Hudson will kick off a six-game road trip tonight against Atlanta and Milwaukee, and he is unbeaten over his past five outings (2-0). He luckily avoided a decision his last time out in a 12-9 loss versus Seattle last Tuesday and was knocked around for seven runs and 10 hits in four innings.
Hudson has permitted 16 runs over his last three starts and is 3-1 with a lofty 6.60 earned run average in eight starts. The right-hander is 2-0 in three road assignments this season and lost his only career start against the Braves back on Aug. 19, 2011 in a 4-2 loss. He gave up all four runs in six innings of work at Turner Field.
Atlanta has stumbled back home and will begin a 10-game residency tonight versus the Diamondbacks, Nationals and Cubs. The Braves are 3 1/2 games off Washington's lead in the NL East and dropped two of three at Boston over the weekend.
In a 9-4 setback at Fenway Park on Sunday, Braves starter Mike Minor was tagged for seven runs, four of which were earned, and six hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked three and added four strikeouts. Three of the six hits permitted were home runs.
"We went .500 against the American League East on the road," said Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez. "We wanted to finish a little over that, but we just couldn't pull it off today."
Jason Heyward went 3-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs scored, and is riding a 10-game hitting streak. Heyward has hit safely in 18 of his past 22 games, and just took home the first National League Player of the Week Award of his career. Eric Hinske added a two-run triple for the Braves, who have lost nine of 13 games.
Tim Hudson will shake off a balky left ankle when he takes the mound for Atlanta this evening. Hudson is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his three starts this month and squeezed out a 4-3 win at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, as he overcame a season-high five walks and struck out five in five innings. Hudson yielded three runs -- two earned -- and is 5-3 with a 3.88 ERA in 10 starts in 2012.
Hudson, a veteran right-hander, is 2-2 in five outings Turner Field this season and an impressive 6-0 with a sparkling 1.36 ERA in eight career starts against the Diamondbacks. Hudson is holding Arizona to a .193 batting average through 59 2/3 innings pitched.
Atlanta won three of four meetings with Arizona from April 19-22 this season in the desert and has prevailed in seven of the past 10 matchups between the clubs. The Braves have won four in a row as the host in this series.