MILWAUKEE — Robbie Ray convinced Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo to allow him to finish the fifth inning, and it paid off.
Ray returned from the injured list and pitched five scoreless innings, Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker each homered, and Arizona beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 Sunday at Miller Park to avoid a series sweep.
“I bartered with him. I negotiated with him,” said Lovullo of Ray before sending the left-hander out in the fifth. “He doesn’t let me down very often.”
Ray (11-7) had been out since Aug. 14 due to lower back spasms. He allowed three hits, walked four and struck out six on 103 pitches.
“It felt good to get back out there and help the team get a win,” Ray said. “I felt like my stuff was good. I felt like I was around the zone all day today. They took some really good at-bats, laid off some really good pitches, but overall I felt like I pitched really well.”
Ray has thrown 18⅔ consecutive scoreless innings against the Brewers.
The win puts the Diamondbacks 4½ games back of the Chicago Cubs in the race for the second NL wild card spot. Chicago lost 7-5 to Nationals on Sunday in extra innings. Milwaukee remained two games behind the Cubs.
After scoring one run over the first two games of the series, Arizona scored twice in the first inning. Ketel Marte led off with a single, Tim Locastro reached on a fielder’s choice and Walker hit a drive to the bleachers in left field. It was Walker’s 23rd home run of the season and his fourth of the team’s eight hits in the series at that point.
Escobar added on in the fourth with his 29th homer. Walker then reached on a double and came around to score on a fielder’s choice to make it 4-0.
That spelled the end for Brewers starter Zach Davies (8-7), who has lost five straight starts.
Marte scored another run for the Diamondbacks in the fifth on an error by second baseman Keston Hiura. Marte opened the inning with a double off Taylor Williams.
Manny Pina gave Milwaukee its first run in the seventh with his seventh home run. Ryan Braun added another run in the eighth, scoring Hiura on a sacrifice fly. Both runs came off of Yoan Lopez.
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Braun, who had a double and a single on the day, has hit safely in each of his past 17 starts.
Christian Yelich had two hits and his 25th stolen base. The reigning NL MVP stepped to the plate with two on in the bottom of the ninth but grounded out for the final out.
“We had, what, four at-bats with the tying run at the plate?” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We did a good job battling back and scoring some runs and having some innings where something good was one hit away from happening. We just couldn’t finish it.”
Archie Bradley collected his seventh save in 10 chances.
Milwaukee catcher Yasmani Grandal went hitless on his bobblehead day.
From the infirmary
Brewers right-hander Jeremy Jeffress was placed on the 10-day IL with a strained left hip and right-hander Ray Black was recalled from Class AAA San Antonio.
Jeffress said his hip started acting up last week in Washington.
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 3.64) is slated to start Monday night against St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright (9-9, 4.51) in the opener of a three-game series at Miller Park.
Gonzalez allowed one earned run on three hits, walked four and struck out six in five innings in a no-decision against St. Louis on Tuesday.
The red-hot Cardinals have won seven of eight and 13 of 16, opening up a 2 1/2-game lead over the Chicago Cubs and a 4 1/2-game lead over Milwaukee.