The NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping their recent funk doesn't snowball.
While the Arizona Diamondbacks have long since surrendered the NL West lead, they are still very much alive in the playoff race.
Slumping Pittsburgh looks to get back on track Sunday in this series finale against visiting Arizona, which is coming off its biggest offensive outburst of the year.
The Pirates (72-50) looked like contenders in 2011 and 2012 before falling off, and they've suddenly lost six of eight - tied for their worst eight-game stretch of the season.
Pittsburgh is still two games ahead of second-place St. Louis in the division and 8 1/2 clear of the Diamondbacks (63-58) for a playoff spot.
Arizona sat atop its division for nearly two months before Los Angeles took over in late July. Though the Diamondbacks are also 8 1/2 behind the Dodgers, they are just five games back of Cincinnati - which they'll visit for four games starting Monday - for the second wild-card spot after winning seven of 10.
Arizona bounced back from Friday's 6-2 loss at PNC Park with Saturday's 15-5 rout.
Martin Prado went 4 for 5 with a three-run homer and Paul Goldschmidt collected three of the team's season high-tying 20 hits, including a three-run shot of his own. Wil Nieves had three RBIs while Didi Gregorius , pinch-hitter Jason Kubel and pitcher Trevor Cahill all drove in two.
"I feel like this is the beginning of what we should do from now on," said Prado, who scored a career-high four runs. "I feel like everybody contributed. We're hoping to keep having this offense all the way through the end of the season."
Goldschmidt's 30 homers are tied for the NL lead with Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez , who also connected on a three-run homer Saturday. Goldschmidt has nine home runs during a 21-game stretch, while Alvarez has three in his last six.
Alvarez will try to stay hot against Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley (9-8, 3.63 ERA), who is 5-1 with a 2.01 ERA in eight outings since the beginning of July. The left-hander had posted a 0.86 ERA during a season-high three-start winning streak before yielding four runs in seven innings of Monday's 7-6 walkoff win over Baltimore.
"I really didn't have good stuff, I was just pitching with my fastball," he told MLB's official website. "I just tried to battle and get through it."
Miley yielded two runs in 6 2-3 innings to beat Pittsburgh 10-2 on April 10, improving to 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA in the series.
The Pirates will try to get back on track behind Charlie Morton (4-3, 3.79). The right-hander allowed two runs in six innings of Tuesday's 4-3, 14-inning loss at St. Louis.
"He gave us a good start," manager Clint Hurdle said of Morton, who held Miami to two runs over seven innings in his previous outing. "He has good command of the fastball."
Morton limited the Diamondbacks to three hits over six innings in a 5-3 win in Phoenix on Sept. 20, 2011 - his most recent start versus Arizona.
|August 12, 2013||Cody Ross||15-Day DL||Dislocated right hip|
|August 11, 2013||Cody Ross||Day-to-Day||Dislocated right hip|
|August 10, 2013||Eric Chavez||15-Day DL||Hip and knee injuries|
|July 29, 2013||Miguel Montero||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|July 26, 2013||Aaron Hill||Day-to-Day||Hamstring tightness|
|July 09, 2013||Eric Chavez||Day-to-Day||Stiff right hip|
|August 11, 2013||Starling Marte||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hand|
|July 28, 2013||Travis Snider||15-Day DL||Left big toe discomfort|
|July 28, 2013||Michael McKenry||15-Day DL||Left knee surgery - out for season|
|July 23, 2013||Jason Grilli||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Once again, the Arizona Diamondbacks found a victory to be worth the wait.
Adam Eaton 's bloop double in the 16th inning drove in two runs and the Diamondbacks outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Sunday.
Eaton's career-high fourth hit came during his seventh at-bat, giving Arizona its club-record 13th win in extra innings this season.
"As long as you want to go, we'll go with you and stay in a dogfight," Eaton said. "We'll play as long as we need to play."
The Diamondbacks needed seven pitchers Sunday over 4 hours, 39 minutes, in improving to 13-5 in extra-inning games. Arizona's victory was its 27th in its final at-bat, by far the most in the majors. It also was the Diamondbacks' 36th comeback win - second-most in the majors - and ninth in as many games when playing beyond nine innings on a so-called "travel day."
"It can be frustrating when you get into extra innings and don't come through, but all you can do is keep battling and our guys do that," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.
With A.J. Pollock and Didi Gregorius on base and two outs in the 16th, Eaton fought off a 1-0 pitch from Kris Johnson and dunked the ball into shallow left-center. A sprinting Andrew McCutchen failed in his attempt at a diving catch.
"That ball wasn't exactly crushed," Eaton said. "He threw a slider and I tried to stay through it, and good things happen when you put the ball in play."
Arizona remained five games behind Cincinnati in the race for the second NL wild-card spot. Pittsburgh's lead in the NL Central dwindled to one game over St. Louis.
The Pirates dropped two of three to Arizona, losing their third consecutive series.
"We're playing good baseball; we're just in a stretch here," Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker said. "We need to keep grinding it out and keep playing hard. We've played a lot of innings, so it's taxing us a little bit."
Pittsburgh lost its third extra-inning game in six days. The Pirates have played 69 innings during that span - the equivalent of almost eight games. The resulting weary bullpen was why they summoned Johnson from Triple-A Indianapolis in a move that was announced less than hour before game time.
Johnson (0-1) threw 82 pitches in six innings. He had five strikeouts and allowed five hits and two walks.
"It's satisfying - I just wish I could have done a little more," Johnson said.
Johnson is a 28-year-old minor league veteran of 189 games. He was 10-4 with two saves and a 2.41 ERA in 25 games (20 starts) with Indianapolis this season.
"Just a fantastic effort for your major league debut," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We couldn't ask him to do any more than he did other than to find a way to win that game."
Wade Miley limited the Pirates to two runs over eight innings and Aaron Hill went 4 for 7 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games for Arizona.
The Diamondbacks (64-58) play their next four games in Cincinnati against the Reds, who are 2 1/2 games back of the Pirates in the division race.
Six Arizona relievers combined to pitch eight scoreless innings. Brad Ziegler (7-1) had two strikeouts while pitching perfect 14th and 15th innings, and J.J. Putz worked around two walks - one intentional - in the 16th to earn his sixth save. Johnson struck out swinging to end the game.
After Hill's bases-loaded single scored Eaton in the sixth, the Diamondbacks had the bases loaded and no outs with an opportunity take the lead. They tied it at 2 when Gerardo Parra grounded into a double play.
Pirates starter Charlie Morton allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks with six strikeouts.
Tony Watson allowed a single during each of his two innings, but struck out the side in the ninth. Mark Melancon worked a scoreless 10th and has allowed an earned run during just one of his past 26 outings.
The Pirates scored once each in the first and third on RBI doubles from Russell Martin and Jordy Mercer , who had three hits.
Miley, who has a 2.04 ERA over his past nine starts, limited baserunners. Together with Arizona's relievers, they combined to throw 13 consecutive shutout innings until the offense was able to break through.
"We're always confident because we know somebody is going to get the job done," Pollock said. "We have a lot of good guys on this team and you know someone is going to come through."
NOTES: OF Andrew Lambo was optioned to Triple-A and C Michael McKenry was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the Pirates' roster for Johnson. ... Starling Marte went 2 for 4 against Miley and has reached safely in 12 of his past 19 plate appearances against left-handers. ... The Pirates were set to leave after the game for the West Coast, where they will play seven games in seven days. In NL games played in California over the past two seasons, the Pirates are 1-11. ... RHP Randall Delgado (4-3, 3.53 ERA) starts for Arizona on Monday night against the Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo (11-9, 3.35).