CHICAGO (AP) — Tommy Pham hit two first-pitch home runs, Ryne Nelson was efficient on the mound in his return from the minors and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Chicago Cubs 6-2 on Thursday night.
Ketel Marte added his 22nd homer to help the Diamondbacks win their second straight and move a half-game ahead of Miami for the last of the three NL wild-card spots. Chicago holds the No. 2 wild card, three games ahead of Arizona.
Nelson (7-7), recalled from Triple-A Reno a night earlier, gave up two hits while striking out three and walking two in the first 5 2/3 innings. Paul Sewald, the last of five Arizona relievers, finished for his 31st save.
“My main focus (at Reno) was getting better so I could come back here and help the team win,” Nelson said. “It was a big driver for me.”
Seiya Suzuki tripled and scored the first run for Chicago, which saw a four-game streak end and missed a chance to trim idle Milwaukee’s NL Central lead to one game. Dansby Swanson added a ninth-inning RBI single off reliever Joe Mantiply.
“Tonight was a weird one,” Cubs manager David Ross said after several Chicago fly balls died near the walls. “We hit some balls really hard and they all went to the track.”
Pham had a solo shot off Javier Assad (3-3) in the first and Marte added a two-run homer in the fourth to give Arizona all the offense it needed. Pham drove in two more with his 15th homer in the eighth inning off reliever Keegan Thompson and Marte added an RBI single in the ninth.
“It always sets a good tone when the veterans do their job,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “You have the calming influence of veterans getting the job done.”
Assad pitched the first 5 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits while walking one with no strikeouts.
Nelson was optioned to Reno on Aug. 12, a day after giving up six earned runs in a 10-5 loss to San Diego.
“He was very receptive to what needed to happen,” Lovullo said about the way Nelson accepted the demotion. “The majority of the credit should go to Nelly for trusting and going down there and getting it done.”
Arizona’s Jordan Lawlar, the sixth overall pick in the 2021 amateur draft, made his major league debut Thursday night at shortstop. The 21-year-old got his first career hit in his second at-bat, legging out a grounder, and finished 1 for 4 with a strikeout. “It was amazing to just take in,” said Lawlar, who was in the middle of a double play in the first on his first chance in the field.
“I DO … NOW LET’S GET TWO!”
A couple can claim they had more than 28,000 people at their wedding after exchanging vows in the left field bleachers during the third inning. The bride – dressed in a white gown and veil – and groom got a nice ovation from nearby fans after making their union official. The ballpark organist ended the game with a wedding march for the newlyweds, who stayed for the entire game.
Diamondbacks: OF Corbin Carroll led off a night after leaving Wednesday after being hit on the wrist by a pitch. … C Seby Zavala, claimed off waivers a day earlier from the White Sox, was available to play Thursday night.