PHOENIX — After signing Zack Greinke in late 2015 Tim McCarver Jersey
, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a trade designed to turn them into an instant contender. It did not work as intended, but Atlanta is not complaining. The Braves acquired Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson, adding them to a group of veterans and up-and-coming young players who helped make the Braves relevant again.Article continues below ...After finishing a combined 71 games below .500 in the previous three seasons, the Braves have a 3 1/2-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East entering the final game of a four-game series on Sunday in Arizona.Inciarte and Swanson — the principles sent from Arizona to Atlanta for right-hander Shelby Miller in a deal that was widely panned at the time — have helped. Inciarte leads the Braves and is fifth in the NL with 25 stolen bases. Swanson has 55 RBIs for a team that is second in the NL in runs.Miller has missed most of the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.Swanson threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the Braves’ 5-4, 10-inning victory on Saturday. “Everybody knows the last couple of years have not been the best around here, but to be in this situation now is great,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “I’ve been through it all, so this is great when you start winning again. It is kind of like when I just got called up. We were winning all the time. We have the right group of people in this clubhouse to hopefully carry us into the postseason.”Another former Diamondbacks prospect, right-hander Touki Toussaint (1-1), is scheduled to make his third career start Sunday opposite Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray (5-2) as the teams shoot for a series split.Toussaint, like Swanson a Diamondbacks first-round draft pick Pete Rose Jersey
, was traded to Atlanta in mid-2015 along with veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo and his $9.5 million contract when management ordered a payroll cut.“It feels great to be a part of this,” Enciarte said. “The goal is to play meaningful games in September. You see new guys, but you see everybody developing quick. It wasn’t bad years at all.“I know the Diamondbacks are in a great position. We are in a good position, too. Both teams are winning, and I know we are happy with what we have. We don’t look back on what happened because we believe everything happens for a reason. We’re here where we want to be, and we want to be a part of this for a long time.”The Diamondbacks begin a seven-game road trip with the opener of a four-game series in Colorado on Monday, part of a schedule that could include a major league-record 17 straight games against division leaders. They play Colorado twice, Houston and the Chicago Cubs in the next two weeks.“September baseball, when you are in a pennant race is pressure enough,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.“So I don’t want any situation to override how they perform. How do I do that? Different ways with different guys. Distract them. Make them smile. Make them laugh. Make them remember how good they are and how fun the game is when you are doing your job.”Atlanta has seven games remaining against Philadelphia and three against St. Louis.Ray, who has a 4.25 ERA in 19 starts http://www.philliesfanproshop.com/authentic-dave-hollins-jersey
, gets the start after his most effective outing of the season, a 6-0 victory in which he struck out 10 and gave up two singles in 6 1/3 scoreless innings.“My last two starts are about as mechanically sound as I’ve felt all year,” Ray said. “It’s a combination of my direction to the plate and my tempo. Just getting the ball back, getting back on the mound and going. I think that’s the biggest thing, not too much time between pitches.” Ray, who missed two months because of an oblique injury, is 2-0 with a 1.02 ERA in his last three starts. He had a good feel for his curveball in the victory over the Padres.“I think I have thrown it more often lately because it is a pitch I feel I can also land (in the strike zone) but also bounce,” Ray said.Ray has lost both of his career starts against Atlanta with a 4.82 ERA.Toussaint beat Miami in his first major league start on Aug. 13 and lost his most recent, an 8-2 defeat to Boston last Sunday in which gave up three runs and struck out six in 4 2/3 innings. He threw four scoreless innings before the Red Sox knocked him out in the fifth.“I haven’t liked him, I’ve loved him,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.“He’s very impressive young man. Very impressive player. Carries himself very well. Love his assortment. His arsenal is very good. He’s a very athletic kid. He’s handled himself tremendous in the two starts he’s hard here.” Toussaint was 9-6 in 24 minor league starts this season John Kruk Jersey
, going 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA in eight starts with Triple-A Gwinnett.He has not appeared fazed by being thrust into a pennant race.“He faced the best team in baseball the other day and did a really good job,” Snitker said. “The maturity, the game awareness, how he’s handled himself. The whole thing has been very impressive.” 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) http://www.philliesfanproshop.com/authentic-greg-luzinski-jersey
, 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’S RISEAhmed was known mostly for his glove his first four big-league seasons Mike Schmidt Jersey
, 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.”GIANTS MOVESSan 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.TRAINER’S TABLEGiants: 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.UP NEXTArizona 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.