September has been a fun month for a team that seemed out of it in July.
Ketel Marte hit a three-run homer , Josh Rojas singled home two more, and the Diamondbacks escaped one last threat to close out a 7-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night in the opening game of an enormous road trip.
Yep, they're still breathing.
"That's the beauty of this game," manager Torey Lovullo said. "And I think we're all adrenaline junkies. You win the game, there's that rush. We're in a good spot."
Good, and getting better all the time.
The Diamondbacks have won 10 of their last 11 games and 13 of 17, leaving them 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs for the final NL wild card. Chicago lost to Milwaukee 7-1 Friday. Arizona improved to 74-67, matching its season high at seven games over .500.
It wasn't all positive for the Diamondbacks, however.
Left-hander Robbie Ray left in the fifth inning because he felt a blister starting to form on his left middle finger. Ray has been Arizona's most dependable starter lately, losing only once in the last two months. He didn't want to leave the game, but relented when Lovullo reminded him of the bigger picture.
"It was the smart thing to do with what we're trying to accomplish," Ray said.
"There were lots of things that didn't go in our favor, but if you're a baseball fan, that was fun to watch," Reds manager David Bell said.
Marte and Rojas have been integral parts of Arizona's playoff push. They were at the center of it again Friday.
Ray reached on a single when he bunted over Mahle's head while trying to sacrifice. Marte followed with his career-high 31st homer for a 4-2 lead. Marte also had a grand slam Wednesday during a 4-1 victory that finished a sweep of the Padres.
"Great players do great things at great times," Lovullo said. "It doesn't surprise me anymore. He's a very, very good hitter who's doing special things every night. He's having a huge year."
Mahle wanted to throw a certain pitch to Marte, but went with the cut fastball that Casali called instead. Mahle left it over the plate.
"Next time, go with my gut feeling," Mahle said.
Rojas' two-run single completed the rally and left him with hits in seven of his last eight games.
Ray went over 200 strikeouts for the third time in his career. Only Randy Johnson has done better with the Diamondbacks, putting together five 200-strikeout seasons.
LONG AND WINDING ROAD
The Diamondbacks play three in Cincinnati followed by four against the Mets in New York for their second-to-last trip. The Diamondbacks finish with 12 of their last 15 games at home and three in San Diego.
LOVE THE ROAD
Arizona has a club-record 119 homers on the road, three more than the previous club mark from 1999.
LOVE THIS PLACE
Arizona has 31 homers in its last 15 games at Great American Ball Park.
Infielder Domingo Leyba was called up from Triple-A Reno. The Diamondbacks waited to see how he recovered from an ankle injury before adding him.
Diamondbacks: Steven Souza Jr. is on the trip to see Reds team physician Tim Kremchek, who repaired ligaments in the outfielder's left knee in April. ... Luke Weaver threw a simulated game Friday. The Diamondbacks aren't sure of his next step in recovering from right forearm tightness.
Reds: CF Nick Senzel was out of the lineup for a third straight game with a sore right shoulder.
Diamondbacks: Left-hander Alex Young (6-3) is 1-0 with a 3.45 ERA in his last three starts. He's facing the Reds for the first time.
Reds: Luis Castillo (14-5) has won his last three starts. He's 1/3 in four career starts against the Diamondbacks with a 5.01 ERA.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Nationals unveil 2019 World Series championship ring
Check out the Nationals championship ring after they defeated the Astros last October in the 2019 World Series.
Nationals' World Series ring features D.C. monuments, 'Baby Shark' nod
The Washington Nationals unveiled the design of their 2019 World Series championship ring on Sunday after players nixed a plan to hold a virtual ring presentation ceremony.
NY Governor reopens sporting facilities
Governor Andrew Cuomo allows teams in New York to resume athletic practices and events as long as safety guidelines are followed.
Olney: Why many in baseball need reminder of their love for the game
For scouts, lesser-known prospects, veterans hanging on and others in the sport, the hope for a 2020 season is particularly acute.
N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Pro teams can return to facilities
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says teams in his state can return to their facilities for training after a pause of more than two months.
Noah Syndergaard to suing New York City landlord: 'See you in court pal'
Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard is being sued for at least $250,000 after he never took over a three-bedroom penthouse in Manhattan that costs $27,000 per month. Syndergaard responded on Twitter on Saturday, writing, "See you in court pal."