The Arizona Diamondbacks became famous for winning close games last year en route to the NL West title.
This season, they haven’t needed to.
The Diamondbacks will look to win their sixth straight game and complete a dominating three-game home sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, but they’ll have to do it against Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who shined in his major league debut last week.
Arizona (6-2) is starting strong for the second straight season. In 2007, the Diamondbacks opened 7-2, en route to a 90-win season and the division title - despite scoring 20 fewer runs than their opponents. Much of their success was due to a 32-20 record in one-run games.
Now, they’re in the midst of a string of convincing victories. Arizona has won each of its last five games by at least three runs, outscoring opponents 39-13 over that span.
Diamondbacks starters have allowed just six earned runs in 30 2-3 innings during the winning streak.
The team’s bats have been even more impressive, as Arizona’s 50 runs scored lead the majors. Following a 9-3 victory on Monday to open this series, the Diamondbacks amassed 12 hits in Tuesday’s 10-5 win.
Los Angeles (4-4) had allowed just 11 runs in six games before giving up 19 in two games to Arizona.
“It was one we need to get out of our system quick,” Dodgers (4-4) manager Joe Torre said Tuesday.
Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds has two hits in each of his last five games, with five home runs and a major league-leading 12 RBIs over that span. He hit a three-run homer in the first inning Tuesday.
Reynolds and his teammates will have to face Kuroda (1-0, 1.29 ERA) for the first time. The Japanese right-hander - signed by the Dodgers to a three-year, $35.2 million contract in the offseason - allowed just one run and three hits in seven innings of Friday’s 7-1 victory at San Diego.
“I didn’t think that I was going to be able to win so early in the season,” Kuroda said through a translator. “Obviously I prepared so much for this game, but it’s only one game, so game by game, pitch by pitch, I want to go forward from here.”
Padres outfielder Brian Giles, who homered for the only run off Kuroda, called the 33-year-old “deceptive,” saying “his ball gets on you quicker than you think.”
Diamondbacks starter Micah Owings (1-0, 1.35) also had an impressive start to his season. He yielded one run and two hits in 6 2-3 innings of Friday’s 8-1 win at Colorado, striking out a career-high nine as the Diamondbacks began their current winning streak.
“I felt good today about my command and felt good all around,” Owings said. “I felt good about my guys behind me.”
The right-hander was 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA in three appearances - two of them starts - against the Dodgers as a rookie last year.