The Arizona Diamondbacks hoped a homestand against two of the worst teams in the league would help them build their lead atop the NL West. That plan hit a snag in their return to Chase Field.
Following a disappointing loss to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, the Diamondbacks try to even the series Wednesday.
After going 5-1 on a road trip against division rivals San Diego and Los Angeles, Arizona (63-51) wasted an opportunity to increase its division lead after losing 8-3 to the Pirates in Tuesday’s series opener.
The Diamondbacks’ lead over the second-place Padres was cut to one game.
Pittsburgh (45-64), meanwhile, owns the worst record in the NL and has won just five of 21 games since the All-Star break.
Arizona, which hosts a three-game series against NL East-worst Washington beginning Friday, lost for only the third time in 16 games.
“We have games where we don’t play very well,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve got a younger group and sometimes they make mistakes that stick out.”
Nineteen-year-old Justin Upton fell a single shy of the cycle in his Arizona home debut, and is 7-for-17 (.412) with three doubles in five games since being called up from Double-A Mobile last Thursday.
“I’ll tell you right now,” teammate Orlando Hudson said. “You might want to start rewriting the records and putting his name right below A-Rod and Griffey when they were 19.”
Eric Byrnes, who signed a three-year, $30 million contract extension earlier Tuesday, was hitless in three at-bats.
Byrnes is 2-for-19 (.105) in his last five games, but against Wednesday’s starter Paul Maholm (7-13, 4.50 ERA), he is 5-for-7 with a double in his career.
Byung-Hyun Kim (6-5, 4.63) returns to pitch for the Diamondbacks for the first time in more than four years on Wednesday.
Arizona claimed Kim off waivers from Florida on Friday to help a starting rotation that will be without the injured Randy Johnson for the rest of the season.
Kim, who has pitched for the Marlins and Colorado this season, makes his first appearance for the Diamondbacks since May 27, 2003. The right-hander spent his first four-plus major league seasons in Arizona, mostly as a reliever. He saved 70 games from 1999-2002, and was the closer for the Diamondbacks in their World Series championship season of 2001.
In his last start for Florida, Kim allowed two runs and struck out a career-high 10 in 5 1-3 innings of last Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Rockies. He’s 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in his last three starts.
Kim has yet to face the Pirates this season, and is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 12 games - three starts - lifetime against them.
Pittsburgh’s Jack Wilson doubled twice, drove in a run and scored one on Tuesday, extending his season-high hitting streak to nine games. Wilson is batting .452 (14-for-31) with two homers and seven RBIs during his run, and is 5-for-12 with a triple and a double lifetime against Kim.
Maholm seeks a fifth straight quality start for the Pirates on Wednesday.
In his most recent outing, Maholm allowed three runs and six hits in six innings of a 6-4 loss to St. Louis on July 31. Despite the loss, the left-hander is 5-4 with a 3.43 ERA in his last nine starts after going 2-9 with a 5.33 ERA in his first 13.
In his only start against the Diamondbacks this season, Maholm allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings of a 5-2 loss on May 20. He’s 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA in three career starts against Arizona, and this will be his first career start at Chase Field.