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PHOENIX (AP) — Madison Bumgarner appeared as if he would get off to another shaky start when the second batter he faced sent a home run over Arizona’s bullpen.
Turned out to be a blip in what ended up being one of his strongest starts since arriving in the desert.
The key: pitching more aggressively within the strike zone.
Bumgarner overcame an early homer to pitch six effective innings, Josh Rojas had three RBIs, and the Diamondbacks beat the Colorado Rockies 9-2 on Saturday.
"Instead of trying to be so perfect with my pitches from the get-go, I tried to just be more aggressive," Bumgarner said. "And it’s funny, it led to probably making better pitches doing that."
Bumgarner (5-8) gave up Kris Bryant’s third homer in two games in the first inning, but was sharp after that. He allowed two runs on six hits and struck out five to pass Catfish Hunter (84th) and Dan Haren (83rd) on baseball’s all-time strikeout list with 2,014.
He got plenty of support.
Jordan Luplow had a run-scoring single in Arizona’s three-run first inning against Kyle Freeland (4-7) and hit a solo homer in the fifth. Rojas had a two-run double in the seventh inning and a run-scoring double in the eighth to finish with three of Arizona’s 12 hits.
Geraldo Perdomo added a two-run single to help the Diamondbacks bounce back from a pair of one-run losses to Colorado, including Friday’s 6-5 loss that had some heated moments after a hit by pitch.
"It was really good response to something that hasn’t been going our way over the past three games," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "I think this team was a little frustrated walking into the clubhouse today and they went out and execute a really good game plan, and made some statements all day long."
Bumgarner has struggled early in starts in his third season in the desert, allowing 27 runs the first two innings of his first 17 starts. The left-hander looked like he might be in for another rough beginning when Bryant, the second batter he faced, launched a solo homer over the Diamondbacks’ bullpen in left.
But Bumgarner settled in, giving up Charlie Blackmon’s run-scoring single in the third inning before striking out four of the final five batters he faced, including striking out the side in the seventh.
"His last three innings were probably the best I’ve seen since he’s been here," Lovullo said.
Freeland had even shakier start to his day.
The Colorado left-hander gave up a sacrifice fly to Christian Walker, Luplow’s run-scoring single and another run on Cooper Hummel’s groundout in the first inning.
Freeland retired 15 of the next 16 batters until Luplow hit a two-out solo homer in the sixth inning. He was lifted after a pair of one-out singles in the seventh inning and Rojas put Arizona up 6-2 with his two-run double.
Freeland allowed six runs on seven hits.
"He kept the ball down better as the game went on and made some pitches," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "The ball-strike ratio (53-46) wasn’t great, he seemed to be missing away against the right-handed hitters. The mix was the usual, but I think his curveball was better today."
Lovullo got to have a special moment with him mom in front of 21,000 people before the game.
Grace Lovullo turned 90 on Saturday and threw the ceremonial first pitch to her son with the rest of their family looking on.
"She was more concerned about throwing the ball overhand rather than underhand, which tells you what kind of feisty Italian woman she can be," he said. "She is somebody that guides me and and has turned me into the person that I am today."
Rockies: 1B C.J. Cron was out of the lineup due to swelling in his left wrist after being hit in the fifth inning of Friday night’s game. ... SS Jose Iglesias also was out after a collision with Arizona C Jose Herrera on Friday left him dizzy. He cleared concussion protocols and is not expected to be out long.
Rockies RHP Germán Márquez (4-7, 5.90 ERA) is 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA his last four road starts heading into Sunday’s series finale against Arizona RHP Tyler Gilbert (0-3, 6.86).