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Marte homers and Cecconi pitches 6 innings to lead Diamondbacks past Nationals 5-0 in series opener

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ketel Marte homered, Slade Cecconi pitched six sharp innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Washington Nationals 5-0 in the opener of a three-game series Tuesday night.

Corbin Carroll reached base four times and scored twice for Arizona, which has won six of eight to improve to 36-37. The defending NL champion Diamondbacks have not been this close to .500 since they were 12-13 on April 23.

“It was a really clean game today for us,” manager Torey Lovullo said.

CJ Abrams extended his hitting streak to 11 games for Washington, which was limited to four hits and had its three-game winning streak snapped.

The Diamondbacks quickly went ahead against Jake Irvin (5-6) when Carroll led off the game with a walk and promptly stole second. Marte then drove a 2-2 curveball to right-center for his 15th home run.

Arizona tacked on two more in the fifth inning when Geraldo Perdomo doubled and scored on Carroll’s triple to left-center. Carroll came around on Marte’s sacrifice fly.

Carroll also walked in the third and singled in the ninth. Last season’s NL Rookie of the Year exited Sunday’s game against the Chicago White Sox in the seventh inning after making an awkward throw from the outfield.

“He’s a hungry player,” Lovullo said. “He did a great job. He said he was OK and he proved it. Sometimes you have to get out of the way of the athlete. When they tell you they can go out and do something, you have to trust them, and we certainly trust Corbin.”

Irvin was in trouble throughout his outing, allowing the leadoff batter to reach base in all five innings. But he limited the damage to four runs in part because the Diamondbacks hit into four inning-ending double plays.

“He was a little off,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “His command wasn’t quite there, but he battled and he gave us five innings. Today he fell behind a lot of hitters. He walked the first guy of the game. That’s not usually what he does.”

The early support was plenty for Cecconi (2-5), who earned his first victory since April 21 and completed six innings for the first time since April 27. He retired the first nine batters he faced and yielded three hits and no walks while striking out six.

Cecconi, who gave up a career-high seven runs in three innings in his last outing Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels, threw just 70 pitches against the aggressive Nationals. The right-hander recorded four first-pitch outs.

“It seems like that’s what every team wants to do against me, and I get it,” Cecconi said. “I don’t really walk a lot of guys. They know I throw strikes and they want to go out there and hit a mistake over the middle of the plate. Last week, I threw a lot of pitches over the middle of the plate that got hit. I don’t think I did this week.”

Jesse Winker, stranded after a two-out double in the fourth, was the only Nationals batter to reach scoring position.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: Winker (right knee) returned to the lineup after a one-game absence. … RHP Josiah Gray (forearm flexor strain) will pitch Wednesday for Double-A Harrisburg. Martinez said Gray will throw around 75-80 pitches. … RHP Cade Cavalli (Tommy John surgery) threw a bullpen. He is scheduled to make a rehab appearance Friday at Class A Wilmington.

UP NEXT

Arizona RHP Brandon Pfaadt (3-5, 4.38 ERA) faces Washington for the first time Wednesday, while the Nationals counter with former Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin (1-7, 5.84).

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Patrick Stevens, The Associated Press