PHOENIX — For the first time in 52 days [url=http://www.kansascitychiefsteamonline.com/customized]Customized Kansas City Chiefs Jerseys[/url] , A.J. Pollock was back Monday where he belonged — in center field and hitting fourth in the Arizona lineup after missing time with a fractured left thumb.
St. Louis, meanwhile, seems to be in a juggling mode where its outfield is concerned. Jose Martinez, who has spent most of the first half at first base, did pregame work in right field for the second straight day, and that appears that is his position moving forward.
Pollock was hitless in four at-bats and scored a run, but the Cardinals took the first game of the series when Yadier Molina had two hits, including a homer and three RBIs in a 6-3 victory Monday.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo apologized to Molina behind the batting cage before the game for language he used in an argument the second inning of an April 8 game in St. Louis. Lovullo was ejected and Molina had to be restrained as players from both teams entered the field.
“Everything is in the past,” Molina said. “I have a bunch of respect for him and the organization in Arizona.”
Arizona right-hander Zack Greinke is to oppose St. Louis right-hander Jack Flaherty in the second game of the series Tuesday.
St. Louis broke a four-game losing streak and, with four runs in the first inning, had a lead for the first time since last Tuesday. The Diamondbacks have lost four in a row.
“It is frustrating,” Lovullo said. “I think we are a better team then we have showed these last four games. The season has its ups and downs and we should know that. We had a situation just like this before.”
Pollock, who has missed extended time because of injuries the last two seasons, will be monitored, Lovullo said.
“He wants to play every day. He makes that perfectly clear,” Lovullo said. “He does not like to come out of the lineup, and I love that. But I explained to him that we’re going to control his playing time and his innings until he’s one hundred percent removed from any more things popping up.”
Pollock was slashing .293/.346.503 with 11 homers and 33 RBIs in 40 games before his injury.
Martinez leads the Cardinals with 52 RBIs, but he also leads NL first basemen with seven errors. Rookie Tyler O’Neill started in right field Monday, with Matt Carpenter at first.
“One of those tough conversations [url=http://www.thebengalsfootballauthentic.com/cordy-glenn-jersey-authentic]Youth Cordy Glenn Jersey[/url] ,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Martinez’s position shift.
“He is so good offensively. And trying to figure out ways to maybe help our defense a little bit on the infield. We’re going to be working him as hard as we can to get him comfortable there and plug him into the equation. There are still going to be some opportunities at first.”
Martinez, slashing .299/.367/.496 with 13 and a team-high 52 RBIs, has played 72 games at first base this season after basically splitting time between first and the corner outfield spots in last season. Left field is now covered by free agent sign Marcell Ozuna.
“Tyler O’Neill is going to play,” Matheny said. “We know when he gets hot, he’s got the potential to do good things for us. Try to get a good look at him while he is in play mode. He’s been swinging it well. Just some different looks. Get some other guys engaged in the infield, too.”
Greinke, 8-5 with a 3.41 ERA, has 13 scoreless innings in his last two starts, victories at Pittsburgh and Miami as part of a three-win road trip. He has won three starts in a row and was 5-1 with a 2.95 ERA in six June starts, dropping his ERA to the lowest it has been since the second week of the season.
“He’s on a Zack Greinke run,” Lovullo said. “He had a real nice run from the middle of May last year until the end of the season, where he just grinds up innings. Fast innings, which equal wins.”
Greinke is 12-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 19 career appearances against the Cardinals. He has more victories against only team, Detroit (13). Greinke is 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA in eight home starts this season and is 16-2 at Chase Field the last two years.
Rookie Flaherty, 3-3 with a 2.92 ERA, has made quality starts in four of his 11 appearances and had a career-high 13 strikeouts while giving up only one hit in seven innings of a no-decision against Milwaukee on June 22. He gave up four runs in four innings in his last appear, a 5-1 loss to Cleveland.
Flaherty, 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA in five starts on the road, has never faced Arizona.
Dallas Keuchel had a different catcher before throwing his first pitch for the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
Everything worked out just fine with Tim Federowicz behind the plate with the former AL Cy Young Award winner throwing some of his best breaking pitches all season.
Keuchel struck out seven and allowed only two runs over seven scoreless innings [url=http://www.arizonacardinalsteamonline.com/customized]Customized Arizona Cardinals Jerseys[/url] , winning for only the second time in his last nine starts, as the Astros beat the Texas Rangers 5-3.
”Some of the shape it was taking early was really good. (Shin-Soo) Choo leading off the game, anytime you get him to swing and miss at a breaking pitch, it’s acting pretty good, and then (Nomar) Mazara struck out looking with a slider away,” Keuchel said. ”Both of those balls had good action and I knew from the then on if I could establish the fastball in to the lefties, it would be a good day.”
Josh Reddick and Tony Kemp homered for the Astros, who are 11-4 this season against their instate division rival, with seven consecutive road wins in the series. Houston is a majors-best 31-14 on the road this season.
Keuchel (5-8) struck out the first four batters he faced, and six of the first seven.
After catcher Brian McCann went on the disabled list and had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee earlier Tuesday, manager A.J. Hinch said Max Stassi would do the bulk of the catching. But Stassi got hit by a pitch batting in the first, and left the game with a bruised right (throwing) wrist before even taking the field on defense.
”I think we avoided a fracture, very good for us,” manager A.J. Hinch said. ”Got him pretty good in the wrist. Got a welt there, couldn’t flex his hand, hand so mobility.”
X-rays were negative and Stassi is considered day to day.
Keuchel had only thrown a few bullpens with Federowicz in spring training, and a live BP session, before the catcher was called back from Triple-A Fresno earlier Tuesday.
”The way he handled the game not expecting to play, that was really impressive [url=http://www.atlantafalconsteamonline.com/customized]Customized Atlanta Falcons Jerseys[/url] ,” Keuchel said.
Choo later walked twice and had two singles to extend his career-best on-base streak to 43 games, the longest in the majors since Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman’s 46-gamer two years ago. Choo is three games shy of Julio Franco’s team record of 46 in a row set 25 years ago.
The Astros used three relievers to get through the eighth. Texas already had a run in before Hector Rondon took over against pinch-hitter Joey Gallo, who worked a 12-pitch at-bat into a two-out walk to load the bases before Robinson Chirinos struck out. Rondon then worked the ninth for his sixth save in eight chances.
Houston went ahead to stay in the first when Yuli Gurriel and Reddick had RBI doubles off Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-2), who still managed to get through six innings. He struck out four, walked two and hit two batters.
”To get through six in that situation was huge for us,” manager Jeff Banister said. ”Early on it didn’t look that it was going to be the case, a situation where really didn’t have a whole lot of sink on the fastball. … For us to still have an opportunity there through those innings, it was big-time by him.”
Astros: SS Carlos Correa, out since June 26 with lower back soreness, has been working out daily in Houston. Hinch said it was uncertain if Correa will be ready to play Friday when eligible to come off the DL. He hadn’t gone through any baseball activities yet.
Rangers: RHP Tony Barnette left the game after a 2-1 pitch to Marwin Gonzalez in the eighth. The Rangers said he had a right shoulder strain and would be evaluated further Wednesday. … 1B Ronald Guzman had two hits and scored twice after being activated from the seven-day concussion DL.
The Astros have homered in 23 consecutive road games, a club record and four from matching the MLB record set by Oakland earlier this season. … Before Bibens-Dirkx plunked Stassi in the first inning, Rangers pitchers had gone 22 games without hitting a batter – the longest span for the team since 1998.
DOUBLE DOUBLED UP
Astros leadoff hitter George Springer was in a 3-for-46 slide before a single in the sixth. But he was also doubled off twice on hard lineouts.
Gerrit Cole (9-2) will pitch on regular rest for the Astros after they made a slight tweak in their rotation. Lance McCullers Jr., who was scheduled to start, was instead pushed back to Friday. Rangers lefty Mike Minor (6-4) took a perfect game into the seventh inning of his last start, a win last Wednesday over the San Diego Padres.