PHOENIX -- Zack Greinke has been so good for such a long stretch that it was a bit of a surprise to see Dodgers manager Don Mattingly stroll to the mound with two outs in the sixth inning on Tuesday night.
After all, Greinke hadn't pitched fewer than six innings since July 3 at Coors Field, when he walked a career-high seven and lasted only five innings. But for his next 13 starts Greinke lasted six or more innings and was one out away from making it 14 straight.
To say Greinke was struggling Tuesday is a relative term, as he was up 8-2. But after he allowed a home run to Aaron Hill, Greinke gave up a double to Paul Goldschmidt and two outs later walked Miguel Montero. That prompted a visit from Mattingly, who usually brings a hook when visiting the mound. Wil Nieves was up, with Didi Gregorius on deck.
"I told him if he got this guy he's going to get another guy," Mattingly said. "I asked him how he was feeling but you'll have to have enough so if one gets on you'll have to get the next guy. That would be the last guy. He said, 'That's perfect.' So he was good with that."
Greinke didn't need to face that second batter, as he struck out Nieves to end the inning and the threat. It was Greinke's 10th straight game allowing two or fewer runs, with a 1.70 ERA during that span.
Since the All-Star break, Greinke's 1.98 ERA is fifth in MLB among pitchers with 10 starts. Teammate Clayton Kershaw is third at 1.85.
While Greinke appreciated the run support from the Dodgers, his mind still works like a pitcher. He was thinking of Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin, who entered Tuesday with 197 innings pitched but couldn't get an out in the third and left trailing Greinke and the Dodgers 6-0.
"I was almost rooting for Corbin to get through that inning, to get to 200 innings," Greinke said. "That's your goal as a pitcher, so that's too bad."
Greinke was 0-for-2 at the plate on Tuesday but did draw a walk, his seventh base on balls of the season, the most by a Dodgers pitcher in 26 years. He is hitting .327/.413/.364 on the season with the third-highest on-base percentage by a Dodgers pitcher in franchise history (minimum 50 PA), and the highest since Clarence Mitchell had a .415 OBP in 1919.
"I don't know, I'm just lucky I guess. I swing a lot but haven't been able to put the ball in play. You get a lot of pitches they eventually throw a ball to you, not trying to," Greinke said. "That last pitcher [Matt Cain], every now and then you see someone and you think, 'How am I ever going to hit this guy?' and you lose your confidence at the plate."
Opposing batters, hitting just .238/.297/.364 against Greinke this season, have to be thinking the same thing.