The NL West looks a lot more competitive as the Diamondbacks prepare to San Francisco this time around.
The Giants swept a three-game series from the D-backs at AT&T Park from May 10-12, all decided by one run, to take a 5 1/2-game lead over Arizona in the NL West. The D-backs finished that series a half-game out of last place.
The teams will play for the NL West lead in a three-game series starting Tuesday. The Giants bring a half-game division lead to Chase Field after the D-backs scored 12 runs in the first three innings of a 12-9 victory at Florida on Monday night. The Giants were idle.
Arizona and defending World Series champion San Francisco are the only two teams over .500 in the division, and the D-backs even caught the Giants on May 30 during a 15-2 run, becoming the first team in major league history to go from last place in a league or division in April to first in May.
The D-backs are 22-9 since losing those three to the Giants in May, the middle stop on a 3-6 road trip in which all six losses were by one run. The D-backs immediately turned it around to win their next eight one-run games before losing to Pittsburgh, 3-2 in 12 innings, last Wednesday on the first stop of the seven-game trip in which they won four of the last five.
Since the Giants series in May, the D-backs have stabilized their rotation by adding right-hander Josh Collmenter and left-hander Zach Duke to replace Barry Enright and Armando Galarraga. The Giants still have the best rotation in the division, but the D-backs have closed the gap.
San Francisco suffered a major loss to its offense in the interim when catcher Buster Posey sustained a season-ending leg injury on a collision at home plate with Florida outfielder Scott Cousins. Second-sacker Freddy Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury Friday, and he also could miss extended time, but third baseman Pablo Sandoval will return from hamate bone surgery Tuesday.
It is the D-backs' lone remaining division series before the All-Star Game at Chase field July 12th.
--C Miguel Montero had the first three-double game of his career Monday, doubling in the first, third and fourth innings. He drove in three runs in the first inning and another in the third to finish with four RBI, one short of his career high.
--LHP Zach Duke hit his second home run of the season, a two-run shot in a five-run third inning, but he could not record his second victory despite being staked to a 9-0 lead entering the bottom of the third. The Marlins produced seven runs and 13 hits off Duke, who left after PH Ozzie Martinez's RBI single with two outs in the last of the fifth inning cut the D-backs' lead to 12-7.
--RHP Micah Owings has three victories, two in the last five days, in eight appearances since his contract was purchased from Triple-A Reno on May 21. He has equaled his win total of 2010, when he went 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 22 relief appearances with Cincinnati. Owings' ERA dropped to 1.83 with 2 1/3 inning of scoreless relief Monday. He pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the seventh, getting the first two outs when he started a home-to-first double play on CF Chris Coghlan's comebacker.
--RHP Daniel Hudson has won seven games since April 26, tied with Boston LHP Jon Lester and Atlanta RHP Jair Jurrjens for the most in the major leagues in that span, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Hudson is the first D-backs pitcher to win seven games in 10 starts since RHP Dan Haren was 7-2 from June 12-Aug. 3, 2009. Hudson, 7-5 with a 3.98 ERA overall, has received a decision in all but two of his starts this season.
--The D-backs are seven games above .500, 37-30, for the second time this season. They were 33-26 after beating Washington on June 4, when LHP Joe Saunders shut out the Nationals on two hits over seven innings, but Arizona lost its next two.
--RHP Josh Collmenter, who will start the series opener against San Francisco on Tuesday, is 4-1 with a 1.05 ERA in six starts. He is the first pitcher since earned runs were recorded in 1912 to have given up four or fewer total earned runs and 20 or fewer total hits in his first six starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
DIAMOND STAT: 3 -- Doubles by Miguel Montero on Monday, a single-game career high. He leads major league catchers with 19 doubles.
QUOTABLE: "This will be a good check for us. We're looking forward to it. They're a good team. We're good, too." -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, on the upcoming three-game series with the Giants.
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