Lamb rewards manager's support with big homer

D-backs third baseman slugs 3-run shot off lefty after Hale gets tossed

Lamb rewards manager's support with big homer

PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Chip Hale had just been ejected in the fourth inning of Tuesday's 5-0 victory over the Rays. He hadn't even made it through the tunnel from the dugout back to his office when he heard noise that caught his attention.

"I was going through and it was odd, because it didn't seem that loud," Hale said. "I said, 'Oh geez, I don't know what's going on.' I got to the office and saw it was a home run and I was relieved."

It wasn't just any home run, but a key three-run blast from third baseman Jake Lamb that provided more than enough offense for starter Zack Greinke. The right-handed ace pitched the first shutout by a D-backs pitcher since April 17, 2015.

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Lamb has struggled against left-handed pitching, so much, in fact, that he has been pinch-hit for in high-leverage situations with lefties on the mound -- such as Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Cubs when Arizona trailed by one run and the bases were loaded with two outs in the eighth inning.

But Hale said before Tuesday's game with the Rays that he liked the matchup for Lamb against left-hander Matt Moore, who entered with a .311 opponent's average against left-handed batters.

Hale was ejected in the bottom of the fourth for arguing whether Brandon Drury's swing-and-miss third strike was actually a foul tip. Two pitches later, Lamb broke open a scoreless game with an opposite-field, three-run homer to left field.

"It's just nice to know he's obviously got our back," Lamb said. "He was obviously fired up at the call. It wasn't changing my plan; I was still going to go up there and be aggressive. It's definitely nice to know he's fighting for us."

Lamb is batting .135 against left-handed pitchers. He has only five hits against southpaws, but three of them are home runs.

"It's an ongoing process," Lamb said. "I'm working; I want to be in there every single day, righty or lefty. And obviously I know the numbers and the struggles so far this season, but hopefully this is a step in the right direction."

Jake Rill is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.