The Arizona Diamondbacks have done a terrific job of gaining ground in the NL West race thanks to a five-game winning streak.
The Diamondbacks look to extend that run and sweep four games from the Florida Marlins for the first time when the teams meet Thursday night at Chase Field.
Arizona (55-48) trailed the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers by 4 1/2 games before its winning streak, but has pulled within 1 1/2 games after Brandon Webb pitched seven sharp innings in a 7-0 win on Wednesday.
The victory was made even sweeter by losses Wednesday by the Dodgers and second-place San Diego earlier in the day. The Diamondbacks are one-half game behind the Padres, and manager Bob Melvin wasn’t afraid to admit he was looking at the scoreboard during his team’s game.
“I did a little bit again tonight,” Melvin said. “Call it a five-run rule. Get a five-run lead and I’ll take a look up there.”
The Diamondbacks have had nine different players post multihit games in this series and the team effort has led to 20 runs and a .333 average. Mark Reynolds and Scott Hairston each had two doubles on Wednesday and combined for three RBIs.
It’s also been a strong series for center fielder Chris Young, who hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first Wednesday and is 5-for-13 with four runs scored.
“I was just going up there trying to get anything started,” Young said. “If I got a walk I’d be just as happy.”
Arizona’s offense could receive a boost if Chad Tracy returns to action. The third baseman hasn’t started any of the games during the winning streak due to tendinitis in his knee, but may be back in the lineup Thursday.
This is only the fourth four-game series between the clubs. They split once and each team took three of four on the other occasions.
Florida (48-54) continues to play without star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who missed his third straight game since he suffered a left shoulder dislocation in Sunday’s 9-3 win against Cincinnati.
The Marlins scored 30 runs over the weekend in a three-game sweep of the Reds, but have managed only six in the first three games of this series.
Arizona starter Micah Owings (5-5, 4.90 ERA), who seeks his first victory since June 20, is 0-4 with a 7.30 ERA in his last five starts.
The Diamondbacks did win for the first time in Owings’ last five starts Saturday, 3-2 at the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander threw 95 pitches in four innings and gave up two runs and four hits while walking three.
Owings, who has never faced Florida, is 3-2 with a 3.18 ERA in nine appearances, including eight starts, at home.
Byung-Hyun Kim (5-5, 4.79) will make his second start against Arizona this year for Florida. The former Diamondback was tagged for five runs over three-plus innings in a 6-4 loss on April 15 in his first start of the season to fall to 0-3 with a 10.91 ERA as a visitor to Chase Field in five career appearances - three starts.
He’s seeking to win consecutive starts for the first time in 2007 after giving up one run and five hits over seven innings in an 11-1 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday.