On Tuesday, D-backs right-hander Randall Delgado was called up from Triple-A Reno to make a spot start. He proved up to the challenge, holding the Marlins to two runs on eight hits with six strikeouts over seven innings.
His reward? Another start in the big leagues. The downside? He will have to face a much more potent Cincinnati offense as Arizona goes for the sweep -- and its fifth straight win -- in Sunday afternoon's series finale at Chase Field.
"I feel I did a good job," said Delgado, who competed for the No. 5 spot in the D-backs' rotation this spring. "I was very concentrated out there; I had been working to see what works best for me on the mound, and I think it worked."
Another strong start would help Delgado's case to stay in the D-backs' rotation. With Ian Kennedy serving a 10-game suspension and a few well-timed off-days on the schedule, Arizona is using only four starters. But Kennedy is not eligible to return until next Saturday, so the D-backs will need Delgado -- or someone else -- to start Friday against the Braves.
The most impressive thing to the D-backs about Delgado, starting in place of the injured Brandon McCarthy, was that he did not allow a walk in his first Major League start of the season.
"I'm trying to make them make contact," Delgado said. "[Catcher Miguel Montero] did a tremendous job behind the plate, too."
Delgado will have a harder time forcing the Reds to put the ball in play, as Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo rank first and second in the Majors in walks. And he will be pitching against a tough opponent in Reds starter Mat Latos, who snapped a long unbeaten streak his last time out.
Latos entered Tuesday's start against the Pirates 10-0 with a 2.80 ERA over his last 21 regular-season starts going back to last year. He had not lost a game since last Aug. 24. Though he took the loss, Latos did not pitch all that poorly against Pittsburgh, retiring 14 of his final 15 batters. In all, Latos allowed three runs on three hits and three walks while striking out nine over five innings.
"I got aggravated with myself; I didn't feel too well in the bullpen," Latos said Tuesday. "I kind of took it into the first inning. I beat myself today."
Reds: Bruce on home run rampage
Say this for Jay Bruce: He has made his hits count over the past week. Since last Sunday, the right fielder has recorded seven hits, all of them home runs. He added two more to his season total (18) Saturday night, blasting one in the second inning off D-backs lefty starter Patrick Corbin and another in the ninth off right-handed closer Heath Bell.
• Reliever Nick Masset, recovering from right shoulder surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule, joined the Reds at Chase Field on Saturday and threw in the bullpen. Masset has been in Arizona, working out at the Reds' player development complex in Goodyear.
Masset has thrown four side sessions so far and hopes to pitch a few more before facing hitters in live batting practice. The Reds have not set a target return date for Masset, but he hopes to get back as soon as possible.
"We could sure use him before the year is out," manager Dusty Baker said.
D-backs: Gibson climbs club wins leaderboard
With Saturday's 4-3 win over the Reds, his 250th as the D-backs' manager, Kirk Gibson tied Buck Showalter for third place on the club's all-time wins list behind Bob Melvin (337) and Bob Brenly (303).
• Outfielder Gerardo Parra has hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games, batting .344 (22-for-64) during that stretch after going 2-for-4 with a homer Saturday night. He has hit safely in 10 straight home games and reached base safely via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in 66 of 73 games this season.
• As a team, the D-backs are hitting .303 with runners in scoring position (50-for-165) this month.
• As of the latest All-Star Game voting update, Votto held the lead over Paul Goldschmidt among National League first basemen, but it stands to reason that both should make an appearance at the Midsummer Classic in Citi Field. Gibson certainly feels there is room for the two of them, at least.
"When you look at the All-Star Game, I can't even imagine that those two wouldn't be there," Gibson said. "Are we trying to win? What don't they do? In Goldy's case, not only is he developing as a dangerous hitter, but he can also run the bases, and he's an exceptional defender."