PHOENIX (AP) — It’s just 13 games into the season, so Josh Rojas isn’t about to throw any parties, but the preseason hype surrounding the Arizona Diamondbacks appears justifed.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a three-run homer for his first long ball with the D-backs, rookie Drey Jameson pitched four scoreless innings and Arizona beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-3 on Wednesday.
The NL West-leading Diamondbacks took two of three in the series and have won five of their past six games.
“I don’t want to go out and say this is how we’re going to play the rest of the year — it’s a game of ups and downs,” Rojas said. “You fight and you work to be a consistent team, so it’ll be interesting how we battle those ups and downs.”
So far, so good.
The D-backs have languished near the bottom of the division over the last several years, losing 110 games in 2021 before improving to 74-88 last season. Thanks to a young nucleus of Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy and Jameson, they opened as a trendy pick to contend for a playoff spot this season.
Arizona is 8-5 after a 5-2 homestand against the Dodgers and Brewers.
“What I said to the team at the beginning of the year is I want them to be able to execute at a critical moment,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We did that several times today.”
Milwaukee lost its first series this year.
Arizona took a 5-0 lead through four innings thanks to Gurriel’s third-inning drive and shoddy Brewers defense that committed three errors. Milwaukee starter Janson Junk (0-1) gave up five runs, including four earned, over 4 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old — making his first start of the season — surrendered eight hits, struck out two and walked two.
Gurriel and catcher Gabriel Moreno came to the D-backs in an offseason trade that sent Daulton Varsho to the Blue Jays. The 29-year-old outfielder has found a home in the middle of Arizona’s lineup and his right-handed bat helps balance the lefty heavy roster.
“We’re in a good moment right now and everybody should be able to contribute,” Gurriel said through an interpreter. “That’s what we did today.”
Jameson — wearing his usual ‘Scooby Doo’ themed shoes — gave up just three hits and struck out four in his first start this season. The hard-throwing righty started the season in the bullpen, but was recently moved to the rotation after Zach Davies suffered an oblique injury last week.
Gurriel and Rojas both had three hits. Kyle Nelson (2-0) got the win on the mound.
“It’s fun when it’s going well, it’s fun when you’re getting the pitch you’re looking for, it’s fun when the pitcher is making mistakes and you’re hitting them,” Rojas said.
Milwaukee briefly fought back, cutting the margin to 5-3 in the seventh when the first four batters reached base off reliever Luis Frias. D-backs rookie Corbin Carroll responded with a opposite field, two-run homer to push the advantage back to 7-3.
“We put a good rally together, down 5-0 and we got the tying run on base,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “But they went to (Andrew) Chafin and he wiggled out of it.”
William Contreras had three hits for the Brewers, including a double. Christian Yelich had two RBIs.
Chafin — a left-hander who refers to himself as a “chubby reliever for the Diamondbacks” in his Twitter profile — made a couple outstanding defensive plays to give the D-backs out of a jam in the seventh.
Chafin covered first base on a double play, grabbing the return throw while managing to keep his foot on the bag, which secured the second out. He then snagged a line drive from Brian Anderson for the third out.
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo was ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes. It was his first ejection this season. He was tied for the NL high with five ejections last season.
Brewers: Travel for a four-game series against San Diego starting Thursday. LHP Eric Lauer (1-1, 7.71 ERA) will start for the Brewers against Padres RHP Nick Martinez (0-1, 6.17)
Diamondbacks: Start a trip against Miami on Friday. LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-1, 7.27 ERA) will throw for the Diamondbacks against Marlins LHP Trevor Rogers (0-2, 6.00).
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