Veteran Weeks excels against Kershaw

Hale commends outfielder for providing leadership

Veteran Weeks excels against Kershaw

PHOENIX -- Rickie Weeks Jr. is getting some challenging assignments these days.

The veteran outfielder only has sporadic starts. But lately, D-backs manager Chip Hale has been putting Weeks in the lineup against some of the league's top pitchers -- such as Marlins starter Jose Fernandez on Saturday and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Chase Field.

Hale does it because he feels he can count on Weeks to battle these elite hurlers. The left fielder rewarded his manager's faith against Kershaw by going 2-for-3 against the left-hander, including a solo home run in the second and a double in the fourth.

"When you're not playing much, I'd love to face Kershaw all the time," Weeks joked. "Nah, but it's just one of those things where I'm always ready to play. For me, obviously, I have been around for a while, but the biggest thing is just coming out there and staying ready and preparing myself every day."

Not too many players have good career numbers against Kershaw, who beat the D-backs by throwing 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball with 11 strikeouts. But Weeks is one of the few exceptions.

Weeks is 7-for-20 against the Dodgers' ace. His six extra-base hits against the left-hander are tied with Adam Dunn for the most by any player.

"You've just got to pick and choose your spots, I guess," Weeks said. "Obviously, he's a great pitcher, arguably the best pitcher in the game right now, so for me, it's just going up there and staying aggressive. He throws a lot of strikes, and I mean, I got lucky today."

Weeks Jr. throws out Turner

Weeks hit his fourth homer of the season, leading off the bottom of the second with a shot to left. He hit a ball into the gap in right-center field and legged out a double in the fourth, but he was left stranded at second as Welington Castillo struck out. It was the first of three times in four innings that the D-backs left a runner in scoring position to end the frame.

Weeks, who was signed by Arizona this past offseason, is in his 13th season in the Majors, and Hale has commended him numerous times for the veteran leadership he provides to the club.

"He did a nice job," Hale said. "He's a pro, he gives us professional at-bats every at-bat. Even his last at-bat of the game against [Los Angeles closer Kenley] Jansen was a bullet to short. We can always count on that from him."

Despite Weeks' best efforts, the D-backs lost the rubber match with the Dodgers. They finished the nine-game homestand with a 4-5 mark and have yet to post a winning record on any homestand this season.

Arizona now begins a three-city, 10-game road trip that begins on Friday in Philadelphia.

"The mindset is just keep going forward," Weeks said. "All in all, you've got to go out there and try to start Game 1 tomorrow, and we're going to try to do that."

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.