It had been a couple of weeks since Steven Souza Jr. approached Arizona manager Torey Lovullo in Cincinnati about batting leadoff, so the right fielder began to question whether he would get his chance.
“I was wondering,” he said.
Then, with the offense in a deep funk, Souza arrived at the ballpark Wednesday and checked the lineup: leadoff.
He made good on his word that he could handle the job, hitting a home run to start the third that ended the Diamondbacks’ 25-inning scoreless drought. Souza added an RBI double the next inning and backed Zack Godley with a defensive gem in a 3-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.
Lovullo was considering Souza in the same spot Thursday at Dodger Stadium.
“I love it. I’ve done it for the majority of my life. The last couple of years I’ve been in the middle of the lineup,” Souza said. “Wherever Torey wants to put me, I’m going to do my best there. I have some familiarity with the leadoff spot and it was just fun to be there in front of some really good hitters.”
Godley (14-7) struck out six over 7 2/3 innings of two-hit ball and increased his career best for wins as first-place Arizona moved a half-game ahead of idle Colorado in the NL West.
Lovullo vowed to switch things up as needed to try to give his club a spark, going with Souza leading off in a move that proved spot on.
Lovullo said he will “do something a little outside the box” as necessary down the stretch, with everybody understanding each game is now so crucial in the playoff chase.
When Souza asked him about hitting leadoff, Lovullo made it clear: “I’ll make that decision,” he told the player. “I’ll handle this. I’ll take care of this.”
It was a timely choice.
Before Souza’s fourth home run of the year, the Diamondbacks hadn’t scored since the third inning of Sunday’s 5-2 win against the Mariners.
Souza also made a magnificent, diving, backhand catch on the warning track after running down pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco’s deep fly to the gap in right-center. Souza tipped his cap after the play.
San Francisco had its four-game winning streak snapped, one victory shy of matching its longest of the season from May 30 to June 4. The Giants missed a chance to sweep the Diamondbacks in a series of three or more games for the first time since July 2016.
Godley, who is 6-0 over his last eight road starts, hit three Giants batters with pitches through five innings. The last time a Diamondbacks pitcher had three hit batsmen was Ian Kennedy on Aug. 9, 2010, against the Brewers.
Godley gave way to Archie Bradley after allowing a two-out single to Gorkys Hernandez and pinch-hitter Hunter Pence’s walk. Bradley allowed Andrew McCutchen’s RBI single but retired Joe Panik on a called third strike to end the inning.
Brad Boxberger got the final two outs on strikeouts for his 30th save.
Giants rookie Dereck Rodriguez (6-2) lost for the first time in 13 appearances — 12 starts — since June 9 at Washington. He walked a season-high four in five innings, allowing five hits with three strikeouts in his second start since coming off the disabled list from a strained right hamstring.
“You can have two months of a good stretch and then have one bad outing,” Rodriguez said. “But I’m not going to let it affect me.”
Arizona shortstop Nick Ahmed met with third base coach Tony Perezchica to discuss signals after a costly mistake a night earlier that Lovullo described as “maybe just a little gap in communication.”
In a scoreless game, Ahmed was thrown out at home to end the eighth as he tried to come home from first on pinch-hitter David Peralta’s single to deep right-center.
Ahmed saw Perezchica’s initial, aggressive wave but then ran through a stop sign while charging for home.
“They’re both claiming some responsibility,” Lovullo said.
From now on with Ahmed, Perezchica will both give a stop sign and a verbal command.
Giants: Rookie CF Steven Duggar was placed on the disabled list with a potential season-ending left shoulder injury a day after a hard, headfirst slide back into second base. After the game, manager Bruce Bochy said Duggar dislocated the shoulder and has a labrum tear, with surgery recommended but no decision yet made. Duggar arrived at AT&T Park still very sore from the night before, when he wound up staying in the game and scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 1-0 victory. … Blanco was called up from Triple-A Sacramento. … RHP Jeff Samardzija received a second opinion on his inflamed pitching shoulder from Dr. Tim McAdams at Stanford and it was advised the pitcher continue to rest the injury. There was no structural damage found but Samardzija’s availability for the remainder of the season is in doubt based on the time he would need to build back up in his throwing program after the rest period. “Looking at the timetable here where we’re at in the season, I think you have to be honest and say it’s doubtful,” Bochy said.
Left-hander Robbie Ray (3-2, 4.73 ERA) pitches for Arizona in its series opener at Dodger Stadium. Following an off day for the Giants, lefty Andrew Suarez (5-9, 4.42) takes the mound Friday at home to begin a weekend series with the New York Mets.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports