Ahmed homers twice, Diamondbacks beat Giants 9-3
PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Diamondbacks are playing downhill baseball and moving up the standings.
Nick Ahmed homered twice and had four RBIs, Steven Souza Jr. drove in three more runs and the Diamondbacks jumped on the San Francisco Giants early for a 9-3 victory on Saturday night.
"Just momentum, you score first in the game — I don't know what the percentages are — but you have much higher likelihood to win the game," Ahmed said. "We just try to jump out, attack early and have been doing a good job of that lately."
Souza hit a two-run triple and Ketel Marte hit a two-run homer off Andrew Suarez (4-7) in Arizona's second-straight five-run first inning against the Giants. Arizona leads the majors with 92 first-inning runs and moved a game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West after winning for the third time in four games.
Ahmed had run-scoring single in the first, a two-run homer in the fifth and a solo shot in the eighth.
"When I talk about downhill baseball, we eliminate a lot of the noise and go out there and play the game the way we know how," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said.
Steven Duggar hit his first career home run and Andrew McCutchen had a solo shot for the only runs off Clay Buchholz (5-1), who won his fourth straight start. Buchholz struck out Evan Longoria with runners on second and third in the fourth inning, then put the Giants down in order the next two innings.
McCutchen had five hits and two RBIs from the leadoff spot.
"The leadoff hitter gets five hits, a home run, RBI double and you think we are in the game, but unfortunately we weren't," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Diamondbacks jumped on starter Chris Stratton for five runs in the first inning of Friday's win and did the same against Suarez.
Souza had a two-run triple and Ahmed followed with a run-scoring single. Marte made it 2-0 with a no-doubt two-run homer to center, his 10th of the season. Marte joins Stephen Drew (three times), Steve Finley (twice) and David Peralta as the only Arizona players with 10 homers and 10 triples in a season.
Souza had a run-scoring double that just missed going out in center in the fifth inning. Ahmed followed with a shot to left that did clear the wall for a two-run homer to put Arizona up 8-2.
Suarez allowed eight runs on 10 hits in five innings.
"I fell behind in the count, they took advantage of it," Suarez said. "I had some good pitches and they hit them."
Buchholz was sharp except for a couple of breaking balls: One that McCutchen hit for a solo homer in the third inning, another Duggar hit for a solo shot in the fourth.
Buchholz allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings.
Ahmed was known mostly for his glove his first four big-league seasons, hitting no more than nine homers and a career-best of 34 RBIs.
The 28-year-old shortstop has found his grove at the plate this season with 16 homers and 57 RBIs. His 16 homers are third in Diamondbacks history by a shortstop, behind Stephen Drew's 21 in 2008 and Jay Bell's 18 in 1998.
"I feel like he was never satisfied with just being a great defender who was going to put the bat on the ball," Lovullo said. "He wanted to excel in both areas. He has a really good mindset that he wants to be great. I think that motivates him every day."
San Francisco recalled RHPs Derek Law and Pierce Johnson from Triple-A Sacramento prior to Saturday's game, and optioned Stratton and infielder Kelby Tomlinson to the River Cats. Stratton struggled against the Diamondbacks on Friday, allowing six runs on 10 hits in three innings of a 6-3 loss.
Giants: C Buster Posey was held out of the lineup under concussion protocol after leaving Friday's game due to a foul ball off his mask. He worked in the field before Saturday's game and could play Sunday if he remains symptom free.
Diamondbacks: Lovullo returned to the dugout after missing Friday's game due to an illness.
Arizona LHP Robbie Ray is 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 10 career starts against the Giants heading into Sunday's season finale. Giants starter Derek Holland is 0-1 with a 4.61 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks.
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