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Dose of Venom: Nuņo denied first NL victory, D-backs bullpen implodes in crushing loss to Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates' Josh Harrison (5) reacts as he runs back to the dugout after scoring the go-ahead run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in Phoenix. The Pirates defeated the Diamondbacks 9-4. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

PHOENIX -- For the first time in his brief Arizona Diamondbacks career Friday, left-hander Vidal Nuņo came into a start having already faced the opposition this season.

But familiarity with the reigning National League Central champions didn't breed positive results -- though no fault of his own.

The San Diego native allowed just one earned run on three hits, while striking out five over six ho-hum innings. Showing confidence in his entire arsenal -- fastball, slider, curveball and changeup -- Nuņo was rarely threatened during the affair, as only one Pirate managed to get past second base.

"I finally found my delivery the last couple of outings," said Nuņo, who previously allowed three runs on six hits over six innings in a no-decision against the Pirates back on May 18. "I'm just building on every outing and just trying to be consistent. And it showed."

Offensively, the D-backs were sluggish out of the gates, failing to score a run off of Pittsburgh right-hander Edinson Volquez through the first four frames.

That all changed in the fifth, when a fortuitous bounce and subsequent challenge set the stage for Ender Inciarte, who broke a scoreless tie with a three-run home run over the right field wall.

In the end, though, it still wasn't enough to get Nuņo his first National League win.

Down to its final six outs, Pittsburgh knocked around Arizona's bullpen over the last two innings for eight unanswered runs.

Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez pulled the game even in the eighth with a pair of RBI doubles, and Jordy Mercer, Michael Martinez, Russell Martin and Travis Snider put the finishing touches on a 9-4 comeback victory with their own run-scoring base knocks in the ninth.

"We were in a bad spot today with the bullpen," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I made the decision to try and get through it with the guys I pitched with, and they were unable to do so. They gave up eight runs in three innings.

"Oliver [Perez], [Evan] Marshall and [Brad] Ziegler, I've been using them a lot. It would have been great to use them right there. At the same time, you have to take into consideration where they've been. And we have the rest of the season left. I choice to protect them today, and we were unable to close out the Pirates."

The Good:

Inciarte's blast was the result of one of the odder challenges thus far -- though it did end up benefitting the D-backs.

After Didi Gregorius singled with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Nuņo came to the plate looking to advance his teammate into scoring position. Despite failing to do so with his first two attempts, he managed to get the job done all the same.

With the count at 1-2, Volquez uncorked what appeared to be a wild pitch to the backstop. Recognizing the situation, Gregorius managed to motor all the way to third base.

The pitch, however, appeared to graze Nuņo's left cleat before finding its way past Pirates catcher Russell Martin. After Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle came out to briefly discuss the matter, Gibson countered by challenging the play in spite of having a runner 90 feet from scoring.

Upon a review that last just over 80 seconds, Nuņo was awarded first base and Gregorius was sent back to second. Two pitches later, Inciarte capitalized on one of the night's rare scoring chances with his second career long ball.

The inning didn't end there.

Immediately following the home run, David Peralta drew a one-out walk, stole second, advanced to third on an errant throw from Martin and scored on a wild pitch from Volquez to push Arizona's advantage to four.

Peralta reached base three times and recorded his 21st multi-hit performance in what was just his 49th career game.

The Bad:

Before Friday's performance, Randall Delgado hadn't allowed a run in eight of his nine outings. That streak ended emphatically at the hands of the Pirates.

The right-hander pitched a scoreless seventh but marching out for a second frame proved to backfire.

Pittsburgh pounded him in the eighth for three earned runs -- one of which was the product of a two-run double by Alvarez off of Eury De La Rosa.

Delgado last gave up three or more runs in a game back on May 5 in an 8-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bo Schultz didn't fare much better than his bullpen mate. The rookie was summoned with one down in the ninth, only to serve up back-to-back doubles to Josh Harrison and Mercer -- the latter of which plated the game's winning run -- and RBI singles to Martinez, Martin and Mercer. Schultz, who took the loss, allowed a career-high five earned runs in the ninth inning alone.

All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was given his first day off since June 3. Goldschmidt, who leads the National League with 39 doubles, did come on to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth. His lone plate appearance proved to be eventful after a fastball up and in from Ernesto Frieri smacked him on the left hand.

The incident led to a verbal exchange between both sides following the conclusion of the game.

X-rays on Goldschmidt's hand were deemed inconclusive.

"I wasn't happy about it obviously," said Gibson. "We already had a bad three innings. So it adds insult."

Stat of the Game:

3: In defeat, Nuno put an end to a three-game streak in which he allowed at least one home run. Additionally, for just the second time in his career, the D-backs' starter allowed three hits or less in an outing that lasted at least six innings.

He Said It:

"Delgado, the pitches he threw they just weren't good pitches. They're a very good club, you have to make quality pitches. There were way too many over the plate. Eury the same thing. And Bo, he's a young kid. I hated to leave him out there. I'm sure the game got fairly quick on him. Hopefully it'll be something he can learn from." -- Gibson on the bullpen's implosion in the eighth and ninth innings


• Two-time National League Player of the Week recipient A.J. Pollock (right wrist) made his first rehabilitation appearance Thursday night in an Arizona League game. However, Pollock was force to exit the contest after being struck on the same hand Johnny Cueto hit back on June 1.

• Cliff Pennington, who has been on the disabled list since June 2 with a sprained ligament in his left thumb, will join Triple-A Reno for a rehab assignment this weekend.

• With his fourth-inning double, Miguel Montero reached base for the 15th time in his last 16 games. Montero needs just 11 more doubles to rank third on the D-backs' all-time list.

• Making his first start since Oct. 2, 2010, D-backs third baseman Andy Marte went 1-for-4 with a single.

Up Next:

Rookie Chase Anderson (6-4, 3.34 ERA) will look to secure get the D-backs on track Saturday in the third game of a four-game set with the Pirates. Anderson is coming off one of the best outings of his young career -- one run allowed on three hits over seven innings in a no-decision against the Cincinnati Reds. Anderson will be opposed by right-hander Vance Worley, who has to some extent revitalized is career in Pittsburgh this season to the tune of a 4-1 record with a 2.54 ERA.

First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. and can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

About the Author

School: USC

Started with Bonneville Phoenix: September 2012

Favorite Sports Memory: Going to Game 7 of the 2001 World Series

Favorite all-time athlete: A.C. Green

Favorite sports movies: Field of Dreams, The Scout and Remember the Titans


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