Home News Merrill Kelly struggles as D-backs drop series to Giants

Merrill Kelly struggles as D-backs drop series to Giants

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SAN FRANCISCO — For weeks, the D-backs have done the little things right. It seemed every time an opponent made even the slightest mistake, Arizona made them pay dearly.

It led the D-backs to first place in the National League West and briefly the best record in the league.

The past two days, though, the D-backs have been on the other end of the equation, with the Giants capitalizing when a pitcher misses his spot or a fielder fails to make a play.

All year, Arizona has answered back quickly when an opponent has scored. This series, it’s been San Francisco that has done that.

The Giants (44-33) took advantage of a dropped fly ball and a rare poor outing from Merrill Kelly to hand the D-backs (46-32) a 7-6 loss on Saturday afternoon and pull to within 1 1/2 games of first place in the standings.

“I mean to be honest, as far as cashing in on mistakes, I feel like we’ve been doing that to other teams a lot throughout the year,” said first baseman Christian Walker, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. “So to be on this side of it definitely puts it in perspective to maybe make us understand how important those little moments are. Seems like it’s not a big [thing], especially when it’s early in the game, but mistakes are going to happen. It’s just when you can stop the bleeding, it’s important to get those outs, for sure.”

Kelly had a feeling early on that Saturday might be a long day. He just wasn’t sharp with his location, and while he can find a way to make adjustments and get back on track at times, this was not one of those games.

The right-hander allowed seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits and two walks while striking out just two in five-plus innings.

In his career, Kelly is now 1-5 with a 5.83 ERA at Oracle Park. Contrast that with his numbers at Chase Field, where he is 5-0 with a 1.82 ERA against the Giants.

“I just didn’t have it,” Kelly said. “Today was one of those days that I knew pretty early that it was going to be a grind, and obviously, I just picked a bad team to have a bad day against. Just the way I felt, the way the ball was coming out. … I had real trouble getting the ball glove side today. Sinkers were running back across the plate, cutters were just spinning and couldn’t get the finish on it and get them down and away, changeups were kind of floaty.”

San Francisco scored a pair of unearned runs in the first when center fielder Corbin Carroll dropped Thairo Estrada’s fly ball.

When the D-backs scored four runs in the fifth to grab a 5-3 lead, the Giants were quick to respond with two in the fifth and two in the sixth.

“I think these past two games have been a little bit of an outlier with certain plays at certain times not being made, certain pitches not being made,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “You’ve got to grind through the tough moments, complete plays and make pitches. And when we do that, we win those margins, and we just haven’t been winning those margins here the past couple of days.”

The D-backs, Rays and Orioles are the only teams not to be swept in a series of any length this year, but Arizona is in danger of having that happen if it can’t find a way to get a win Sunday against Anthony DeSclafani.

As the wins have piled up for the D-backs this year, their confidence has grown and they’ve been able to put losses behind them quickly. That will now be put to the test.

“Being able to flush things like [losses] I think has to come from a confident place,” Walker said. “And I think because we know we’re a good team, we’re buying into that. We’ve been winning. I think all those reasons make it a little easier to just chalk a couple games up to, ‘They got us, let’s get back on the horse tomorrow.’ [With] the trend of this year, it would be silly to panic and jump ship now. We have confidence in ourselves for sure.”

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