|Diamondbacks try to ignite offense against Marlins rookie Lopez|
The first hitting extended slump of the season could not have come at a worst time for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who will need to kick-start the offense to have any chance to reach the postseason.
The Diamondbacks have scored 12 runs in the last eight games, losing seven, to fall into a precarious position in the NL wild-card race -- 5 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild-card spot with 12 games to play.
Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray (12-8, 5.97 ERA) will face Miami rookie right-hander Pablo Lopez (5-8, 4.30) in the first game of a three-game series Monday in Phoenix.
"I wish I had a magic wand and I could swing over these guys and make it all go away," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "That's not what happens in this game. What happens in this game is, you continue to simplify and you go back to the drawing board.
"I want to make sure we are not putting too much pressure on ourselves to be the guy, and that we are not getting numbers-conscious and trying to do too much to hang onto certain numbers or make a great year greater. Just be yourself."
The Diamondbacks lost two of three to the Reds and have not scored more than three runs since a 7-5 victory at Cincinnati on Sept. 6. In a 1-0 victory Saturday, Arizona became the first team in major league history to win a game in which it had only one baserunner, according to Elias.
"We've had some guys have some good games in there, but for the most part we are just not getting guys on base as much as we usually do," shortstop Nick Ahmed said. "Getting that leadoff guy on is something big that we normally do, and we haven't done that a ton lately."
The Diamondbacks are 8-for-56 with runners in scoring position in their last nine.
The Marlins (52-97) are in a funk of their own, having lost six of seven. They are 11-34 since July 30.
Outfielder Garrett Cooper, who has 15 homers and is third on the Marlins in homers and RBIs, has missed the last two games after suffering a left knee contusion while making a sliding catch in the first inning of a game Friday at San Francisco, but the injury is not believed serious. He has three homers in the last 10 games.
"As I learn myself as a hitter up here, I'm going to have to tap into a little more power, a little more fly balls," Cooper told reporters recently.
Ray gave up five hits (including two homers) and five runs in the first inning while trying to pitch through a blister in his left middle finger in his most recent start, a 9-0 loss to the Mets last Wednesday. He was removed after two-thirds of an inning, the shortest start of his career.
Ray threw all his pitches in a bullpen session Saturday and is seemingly past the blister injury.
"I'm going to be cautious, but I feel like it's going to be a non-issue," Lovullo said.
Lopez, who will make his 19th start, has put up much better numbers in his 10 home starts, going 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA. He is 2-5 with a 7.71 ERA in eight road starts. He gave up a season-high four walks in a no-decision in his last start against Milwaukee, snapping a steak of eight straight starts in which he had not given up more than one walk.
Ray is 2-3 with a 2.43 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins.
--Field Level Media