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D-backs, Ray try to keep Dodgers down

PHOENIX -- Taken by anything Robbie Ray did in his last start, Skip?

"Nine strikeouts in five innings?" Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "Is that what we are talking about?"

Well, yes. And more.

Ray missed 26 days after being hit in the head by a line drive in the second inning of a start at St. Louis on July 28, but you could not tell by the results in his return to the rotation Thursday.

The Diamondbacks left-hander struck out the side in the first inning and gave up only two hits, two walks and one run in a 3-2 victory road win over the New York Mets.

Ray looked a lot like the guy who made his first All-Star team this season, and he will attempt to carry that over into his first home start since July 23 when he opposes Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu on Wednesday in the second contest of a three-game series at Chase Field.

Arizona won the series opener Tuesday, taking a 5-0 lead off left-hander Rich Hill in the first inning and holding on for a 7-6 victory that sent the Dodgers to their third straight loss. Los Angeles has not lost four in a row this season.

"We played very good baseball for a long time, and I am sure we will get on track again," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

The Diamondbacks won their fifth straight.

Fernando Rodney recorded his 33rd save despite giving up a run in the ninth inning, leaving the runners on the corners while getting Yasmani Grandal to ground out to end the game.

"When you play the Dodgers, you want to let them know that we can compete with these guys," Rodney said. "Maybe they have a better team on paper, but we're a good ballclub. We can play baseball good, too. I'm ready to face the Dodgers any time, any situation. I'm not afraid."

The Diamondbacks remain two games ahead of the Colorado Rockies in the race for the first National League wild card. The winner of the wild-card game is a near lock to play the Dodgers in one NL Division Series, and Rodney has no issue with that.

"We pitch very well," Rodney said. "If we keep going like that, anything that happen.

"I'd like to beat them in the playoffs. That's the team I want to face. That's the team they are talking about. They're the best team in baseball. So when you beat the best, you are the best."

A healthy Ray would boost the Diamondbacks' chances.

Ray struck out seven of the first 13 batters he faced Thursday, with the Mets' only run coming on Yoenis Cespedes' solo homer in the fourth inning.

"It looked like he hadn't missed a start, to be honest with you," Lovullo said. "He probably had another inning in him, which would have been very typical of one of his starts. There was no hesitation in anything that he did, and that's impressive. He executed a great game plan and did what he was supposed to do."

Ray (10-5, 3.06 ERA) would rank fourth in the NL in ERA but is 8 2/3 innings short of qualifying. Ray is 1-0 with a 3.63 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this season with 29 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings, an average of 15 strikeouts per nine innings. He is 4-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 11 career starts against Los Angeles.

Ryu (5-6, 3.34 ERA) has not faced the Diamondbacks this season. He is 3-2 with a 3.26 ERA in eight career starts against them.

The Dodgers lefty got the win in his most recent outing, allowing one run on four hits in six innings during a 5-2 victory at Pittsburgh on Thursday.

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