PHOENIX -- Jason Marquis has gone through this before, stretches of baseball where he can't seem to find a way to get his opponents out.
"I just have to battle and compete and still find a way to get the job done," the D-backs starting pitcher said. "No matter what I feel in between the starts, that's what you're going to get from me on the mound."
And the veteran right-hander is working between starts to get better results during his starts, which haven't been good thus far.
"I have to be down in the zone better," he said. "When I've been ahead, I just haven't finished guys like I've needed to and when I've been behind, I've given up too many hitter's pitches up in the zone and over the plate."
In two starts -- both losses - Marquis has a 12.38 ERA and has given up 15 runs in eight innings. He lasted only four innings in each of his first two starts on the team, against the Giants and Astros.
"The most important thing about [Tuesday] was that we won the ballgame," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he told Marquis. "He made a lot of mistakes and I don't want to say 'Who cares?' but we just try to overcome it and try to win the game.
"He's a veteran guy, he doesn't have to impress anybody and we want to encourage him to not feel any pressure."
Marquis mentioned that mentally, he doesn't feel any pressure and mechanically, he's not staying over the rubber like he wants to.
"You want to stand out to your teammates and be able to win games," he said. "Obviously my first two outings didn't show that, but I try not to put too much pressure on myself."
D-backs downplay being in first place
PHOENIX -- For the first time since June 24, the D-backs are in first place.
But manager Kirk Gibson doesn't care.
"Obviously you want to be there," Gibson said. "But you have to keep that in perspective. It doesn't really mean anything. We want to be there the last day of the season, that's where we want to be.
"I guess as a benchmark of where we want to be, I guess it's good to be there to know where you want to stay."
But Gibson and outfielder Chris Young both said that there wasn't a change in the team's demeanor Thursday.
"It doesn't feel any different than it did yesterday," Young said. "By no means just because you're in first place, the season isn't over yet, we still need to continue to work and we still have a lot more games to win if we want to be in the playoffs."
The D-backs have been a half-game up on the Giants in the National League West 10 times this season but have never led by more than that. They were looking to stand a game up with a victory over the Astros on Thursday, while the Giants are idle.
"We'll approach every game the same, win or lose, then we'll go to the next game," Gibson said. "We have such a long way to go.
"Is it significant? I'm not sure it is right now."
Young trying to bust out of slump
PHOENIX -- Chris Young can't predict the future.
"I don't go into a game saying, 'I'm going to get four hits' or 'I'm not going to get any hits,'" the D-backs center fielder said. "I just go out there every day with the same plan of having good at-bats and trying to become more consistent."
Young is battling a post-All-Star break slump, hitting .173 in 24 games without a home run and with only four runs driven in.
He doesn't have a multihit game since June 26 against the Tigers and hasn't hit a home run since July 2 against the A's but has hit in four consecutive games, leading D-backs manager Kirk Gibson to talk of an offensive breakout.
"I feel like he's close," Gibson said. "He's had some trouble but he keeps grinding and he just hasn't got the results."
Young doubled off the left-field wall, driving in a run in Wednesday night's win over the Astros.
"I don't really look at it as 'I'm about to go on a tear' or 'I'm about to go in a slump,'" he said. "I just look at it as today's a new day. No matter if I had a bad day yesterday or a great game, it has nothing to do with today's game and just try and prepare for today's game."
He said that in working through a slump, he takes as many cuts as possible and doesn't like to hold back.
"I probably go a little more," he said. "I definitely don't take a step back. Sometimes you need to, but I'm one of the guys that likes to do a little more to try and get all the work I can in so I can make the adjustments I need to as fast as possible."
Gibson said he expected closer J.J. Putz to be available for Thursday night's game against the Astros.
"I expect he'll be fine," Gibson said, a day after he passed on Putz following the right-hander's game-ending dive Tuesday.
Gibson said he expected the rotation to stay in turn for their series at Philadelphia beginning Tuesday but noted that if there was a pitcher to skip, it would be right-hander Josh Collmenter.
"Right now, my guess is that we're staying in turn but that could change," Gibson said.
Anthony Fenech is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.