PHOENIX – (AP) — After a three-game losing streak in which the Arizona Diamondbacks came up empty too often with opportunities to drive in more runs, hitting coach Darnell Coles changed things up in batting practice on Monday.
The emphasis on situational hitting worked hours later.
Eduardo Escobar homered, tripled and drove in three runs, Christian Walker also went deep and the Diamondbacks cruised to a 9-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“It was more the things we worked on in spring training, kind of getting back to the basics of just getting a good pitch to hit, understanding what to do when you get a guy on second (base) with less than two outs,” Coles said. “Trying to get something, or at least staying disciplined enough to get a pitch that you can do whatever job needs to be done.”
Robbie Ray (3-1) overcame a rocky first inning to allow one earned run and six hits over five innings. He recorded his 800th career strikeout when he fanned Pirates pitcher Nick Kingham to end the top of the fourth inning.
Ray reached 800 strikeouts in 125 career games, the second fastest for a left-handed pitcher in terms of appearances to reach the milestone. He did it in the third-fewest innings pitched — 664 — according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“Anytime you hit those milestones it means you’re doing a lot right,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “He’s done that a long time, that’s what it tells me.”
The Bucs’ Josh Bell singled in a run in the 1st inning extending his league-leading hitting streak to 13 games.
The teams play again Tuesday night at 9:40.