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LAD@ARI: Greinke allows two hits, connects on three

PHOENIX -- Zack Greinke, drilled by an Ian Kennedy pitch near his head when he last faced the D-Backs, retaliated in the best way possible Monday night.

He allowed two hits on the mound while knocking three singles at the plate as the Dodgers beat Arizona, 6-1, opening a three-game series between the division-leading D-Backs and their closest pursuer, without an unsightly incident.

Greinke pitched a shutout for seven innings with seven strikeouts and two walks, quite the rebound from his seven-walk mess in Colorado last week. His three hits were a career high, he also scored a run and dropped down a sacrifice bunt. He's now batting .370.

"I usually do terrible against the Diamondbacks and pitch really bad here," said Greinke, who beat Arizona for the first time in seven career starts after bringing an 8.71 Chase Field ERA into this game.

But Greinke made a mechanical adjustment during his bullpen session in San Francisco Friday, raising his arm angle, resulting in a sharper breaking ball.

Greinke said he hopes the tweak will allow him to make quicker adjustments when games start getting away from him.

"If I was on, everything would be fine," he said. "But if I had a bad game, I couldn't come back. We worked on some things so if it's not great, hopefully I can be okay."

Greinke's two best starts this year have come against the Padres (June 22, eight innings pitched, one earned run) and D-Backs -- both starts facing a team for the first time since heated exchanges.

"I might want to win a little more," he explained. "But that's also because they're [Arizona] in first place. It's a big game because of that.

"I still have to be more consistent. It can't just be one game, then a bad game. I've got to be more consistent before saying anything."

Management believes Greinke's inconsistency is the result of a Spring Training slowed by a sore elbow, then a month sidelined after surgery to repair a collarbone broken in the San Diego brawl.

"That was as dominant as we've seen him in a while," said Arizona manager Kirk Gibson. "He had a good two-seamer, cutter, slider, curveball and changeup. What else do you need? He made good quality pitches tonight. Just in control. We didn't have many chances, and when we did, he pitched out of it."

Catcher A.J. Ellis, who drove in two runs after a three-RBI game Sunday, said Greinke's improvement from his last start was evident in pregame warm-ups. "He had a better feel from the start. The ball had a ton of life, he had better fastball command and he got his slider again, that really helped."

The Dodgers needed the Greinke lift on a day when they placed center fielder Matt Kemp and fifth starter Stephen Fife on the disabled list with shoulder injuries. Still, they've won 13 of the last 16.

The only hits Greinke allowed were a clean single to center by Paul Goldschmidt leading off the fourth inning and a two-out double in the seventh to Martin Prado. He had to pitch out of one jam in the third inning after walking Jason Kubel and Didi Gregorius with no outs.

But Greinke bounced off the mound when Randall Delgado dropped a good bunt to get a force at third, struck out Gerardo Parra and got Aaron Hill on a tricky force-out bouncer to third baseman Juan Uribe, who also had a pair of hits.

Arizona came into the series with a five-game win streak and was 6-1 in its last seven games against the Dodgers.

But the Dodgers, who have climbed from last place and 9 1/2 games back to second trailing by 3 1/2, delivered 17 hits, all but one of them singles.

Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier each had three hits, Ramirez extending his career-best hitting streak to 19 games. All-Star Final Vote candidate Yasiel Puig, who hasn't forgotten being hit on the nose by Kennedy June 11 and later being ejected, had two hits, as did fellow Final Vote candidate Adrian Gonzalez and Uribe, who is 8-for-25 on the trip with 12 RBIs.

But Carl Crawford was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and is 0-for-16 with seven strikeouts since returning from the disabled list and filling in for Kemp.

The only Arizona run scored with two out in the bottom of the ninth, when rookie reliever Jose Dominguez allowed an RBI double to Eric Chavez. Comments