Kelly helps D-backs end 17-game skid, beat Brewers 5-1

Arizona Diamondbacks’ Stephen Vogt, left, celebrates a win against the Milwaukee Brewers with Diamondbacks’ Ketel Marte (4) and Josh Reddick (22) after the final out of the ninth inning of a baseball game Monday, June 21, 2021, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks defeated the Brewers 5-1. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

By DAVID BRANDT AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX (AP) — Ketel Marte camped under the high fly ball in center field and watched as it fell into his glove. Relief pitcher Joakim Soria smacked his hands together, grinned and walked toward catcher Stephen Vogt, who pumped his arms in a little victory dance.

The Arizona Diamondbacks had finally won a baseball game, ending three weeks and 17 games of misery.

“Sheer joy,” Vogt said. “We’ve been working so hard, fighting, clawing.”

Merrill Kelly pitched seven effective innings and Marte had two hits as the Diamondbacks beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-1 on Monday night. Vogt described the postgame clubhouse scenes of victory that have been missing over the past few weeks: Music blaring, lots of laughing and high-fives.

“It’s definitely more fun winning than losing,” Kelly said.

Merrill Kelly, pitcher

The win was a long time coming for Arizona, which has plunged to the bottom of the standings in the NL West and has the worst record in the majors at 21-53. It was the first victory for the Diamondbacks since they beat the Mets 6-5 in 10 innings on June 1.

The 17-game skid was two shy of the longest during the wild-card era, by the Kansas City Royals in 2005.

Kelly (3-7) — the only Diamondbacks starting pitcher who has stayed reasonably healthy all season — had one of his best outings of the year. The right-hander needed just 94 pitches to navigate his seven innings, giving up one run, five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

“He had a great day,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “He gave us seven unbelievable innings. There was limited trouble. He was making his pitches.”

Kelly said it was hard to get away from the negativity over the past three weeks as the losses piled up. He added that the Diamondbacks are all professionals and take their jobs seriously, so not seeing results was tough.

“A lot of our wives and girlfriends are saints for putting up with us,” Kelly said grinning.

The night didn’t start well for the D-backs, who fell behind in the first inning after Avisail Garcia lined a two-out RBI single through the infield.

Arizona got three runs in the second, when seven straight batters reached base on six singles and one walk. The Diamondbacks pushed ahead 5-1 in the fourth after Josh Rojas sliced an opposite-field RBI double to left and Marte scored on a groundout. The margin held and Soria worked a scoreless ninth to secure the win.

“You have no idea what’s happening in our clubhouse on a daily basis and the pain we’ve been feeling,” Lovullo said. “It’s a good feeling to know we did things the right way and won a baseball game.”

The Diamondbacks started the season 15-13 but have had a rough time for nearly two months. Even with Monday’s win, they’re just 6-40 since May 2. They’ve also got one more dubious losing streak to end: They’ve dropped 23 straight games on the road, the longest skid in modern-day MLB history.

Arizona’s next chance to end that streak is on Friday in San Diego.

The Diamondbacks will send RHP Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.99 ERA) to the mound to face Brewers RHP Freddy Peralta (6-2, 2.28) on Tuesday night. It is Gallen’s second start since returning from a strained elbow.

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