7/20/2013 8:21 P.M. ET
Harris impressing in relief for D-backs
By Andrew Owens / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Since the D-backs claimed Will Harris off waivers from Colorado in April, the 28-year-old right-hander has become a key component out of manager Kirk Gibson's bullpen.
Harris' 1.82 ERA and 11.68 strikeouts per nine innings are tops among D-backs pitchers, and it hasn't gone unnoticed.
"He's doing a great job for us," Gibson said. "He throws sliders, has a cutter and has a good mentality [for late-inning situations]."
One area in which Harris can improve is his walk rate. He's issuing free passes at a clip of 2.92 per nine innings and has struggled with command of his offspeed pitches at times.
"There's been a lot of three-ball counts," Gibson said. "We'd like to see him cut down on his pitches."
Gibson pointed to a moment in Friday's game when Harris threw consecutive breaking balls a few feet short of home plate.
"It was pretty obvious the next pitch would be a heater," Gibson said. It was, and Jeff Francoeur -- a noted fastball hitter -- doubled to lead off the inning.
Harris induced three consecutive groundouts to escape the eighth inning.
"We're moving him into higher situations [recently]," Gibson said. "He's done a good job."
D-backs playing it safe with Chavez's hip
SAN FRANCISCO -- Eric Chavez's ailing hip has improved to the point where the D-backs think he can play, but the club is being cautious to prevent an aggravation.
Chavez has not played a full game since July 8 with right hip stiffness, but has been available to pinch-hit most of the time since suffering the injury. He drew an RBI walk against Milwaukee on July 13 and entered Friday's 2-0 loss to the Giants as a pinch-hitter before a pitching change prompted his removal before facing a pitch.
"It's been 12 or 13 days now, so we're just trying to get further from it," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's good to pinch-hit."
Gibson added that Chavez could start, but that the club doesn't want to risk needing to remove him early in a game if the hip stiffened again.
Chavez missed most of June with a right oblique strain and is batting .226 in 31 at-bats since returning from the disabled list June 29. Gibson said the club is still mindful of the oblique injury.
"If [an oblique] scars, it's not flexible," Gibson said. "We don't want him to be out for a while."
Recent lack of key hits doesn't concern Gibson
SAN FRANCISCO -- Paul Goldschmidt's forceout with the bases loaded in the eighth inning represented the D-backs' only opportunity with runners in scoring position in Friday's 2-0 loss. But when Arizona has had those chances in recent games, it has come up short.
During the D-backs' past eight games -- a stretch during which they're 3-5 -- the club is 8-for-46 (.174) with runners in scoring position.
"I think that's the case for anybody you look at at any time," Gibson said of the club's scuffles. "It's in and out. Beyond the Cardinals, they've done that well this year. They have a great approach and trust it."
St. Louis leads all of baseball with a .339 average with runners in scoring position. The next best, Detroit, is hitting .287 in those situations. The D-backs are tied for 17th with a .249 mark.
"It's unreal for a team to hit that well," Gibson said. "Earlier we were really bad.
"It's probably one of the more important stats given their pitching staff."
The D-backs, however, don't seem to have fallen on the losing end too many times this season due to a lack of key hits. In one-run games, Arizona is 21-12.
• The D-backs' .989 fielding percentage leads the National League, with the Cardinals (.988), Reds (.988) and Padres (.987) close behind.
• Arizona leads the Majors with 21 wins in its last at-bat and is second in the National League with 27 comeback wins. Only Atlanta (29) has more.
• In Friday's 2-0 win, the Giants scored both runs in the first inning, did not score again and still won the game. It marked the first time in more than seven years the Giants won a game in which they failed to score after the first inning.