The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the hottest team in the majors thanks to quick starts, good finishes and a few surprises.
Rob Ryan provided one Monday, homering for his first major league hit as the Diamondbacks beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 Monday night for their 12th victory in 15 games.
Steve Finley doubled in a run off Francisco Cordova (8-6) as the Diamondbacks won the final three games of the four-game series, making them 24-7 overall since July 20 and 15-3 in their last 18 road games.
"You win a game like that, I can't say that we stole one but we got some big outs from our bullpen," manager Buck Showalter said. "When you get pitching like that, it gives you a big edge. I'd like to see us score some more runs, but the bullpen did a great job."
The Diamondbacks didn't score in the first inning for the first time in the series, but Finley followed Erubiel Durazo's leadoff single in the second with an RBI double. It was his fourth double and eighth extra-base hit during a nine-game hitting streak.
Ryan, called up last week from Triple-A Tucson, put Arizona ahead by leading off the third with a drive that bounced off a protective screen behind the right field wall and bounded onto the field. The ball was scooped up by first baseman Kevin Young and arried in the Diamondbacks' dugout before Ryan did.
"I felt like I was sprinting. I don't know if I did or not," Ryan said. "I was just trying to take it all in. Being in this situation, coming up late, I'm here to do little things."
Instead, he contributed a big hit on a night he didn't know he would play. He didn't bother checking the lineup card, certain he wouldn't play, and was playing cards in the clubhouse when Luis Gonzalez told him he was starting.
"It was a surprise. At first I thought Luis was kidding me, then I got nervous and got prepared to play," Ryan said. "My first question was who's throwing and what does he throw."
It was Cordova, and what he wasn't throwing were strikes.
Cordova was 4-0 with a 1.44 in his last four starts in last four starts in Three Rivers Stadium, but walked five and allowed six hits in six innings.
"He didn't have his good stuff, and when he doesn't have it, he slows down and tries to figure out a way to get it done," manager Gene Lamont said. "He gave us a chance, but we didn't give him any runs."
Until he homered, Ryan's only souvenir from his first major league series was an autographed helmet from Pirates catcher Joe Oliver. Ryan's backswing during his first major league at-bat Friday caught Oliver in the helmet, cracking it and causing a mild concussion.
Oliver signed the helmet, "Congratulations on your first major league hit." Now, Ryan has a real hit.
Reynoso (9-2) again had early trouble he has allowed seven runs in the first inning in his last four starts but got Warren Morris on an inning-ending popout with two on following Giles' homer.
Mantei finished for his 22nd save in 26 opportunities, his 11th in 13 chances with Arizona.
"He has a very good fastball and he throws it everywhere," Giles said. "It seems guys like him are effectively wild."
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