MILWAUKEE -- Gregor Blanco led off the first inning with a home run, Chris Owings did the same in the second and Robbie Ray was brilliant for seven innings, as the surging D-backs won for the ninth time in 10 games by beating the suddenly struggling Brewers, 4-0, at Miller Park on Thursday night.
Ray, the 25-year-old left-hander, allowed two singles in seven scoreless innings to win his second straight start. He struck out nine batters and walked none while lowering his road ERA to 0.81 in 33 1/3 innings. Only Minnesota's Ervin Santana (0.31) and Atlanta's Julio Teheran (0.71) have been better away from home this season.
With four straight wins, the D-backs own the second-best record in the National League at 30-19.
"The day was paced by Robbie," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "He was going to the slider, the curveball from time to time. Really when he needed to stand on his fastball, I think he was saying 'Here it comes and do your best to catch up to it.' He's beaten some very capable hitters with an aggressive fastball and, for me, when things like that are swing-and-miss, you know he's having a special night."
The Brewers, meanwhile, fell out of first place in the National League Central with their first four-game losing streak of the season, and that was just the start of their problems Thursday. Catcher Manny Pina left the game after Ray hit him on the left arm with a pitch in the second inning, and left fielder Ryan Braun was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the fourth following a recurrence of left calf tightness that sent him to the disabled list earlier this month. The Brewers were shut out for the second time this season and matched their season low with three hits. Braun will be back on the DL when the series continues Friday.
"It's a little bit of adversity. That's all right. It's part of the season," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We're equipped to handle it, and we will."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Blanco goes deep: After the start of the game was briefly delayed by a technical issue with the replay system at Miller Park, Blanco hit the second pitch from Brewers starter Zach Davies for a leadoff home run -- Blanco's first since 2014 with the Giants. Davies managed to hold on to deliver a quality start of six innings with three earned runs, but has surrendered a homer in each of his five May starts.
"I've been working on my approach to really stay in my swing and have tried to hit gap to gap," Blanco said. "The playing time is getting me more comfortable at the plate and being able to drive the ball better. Yesterday and today, definitely was the first day, I was like, even in BP, I was feeling that."
"Blanco went the other way with a pitch on the middle half," said Davies. "That's impressive."
Stealing some insurance: Among opponents with at least 100 plate appearances against the Brewers all-time, nobody has done more damage than D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, a lifetime .408 hitter against Milwaukee. He was at it again in the eighth inning, when Goldschmidt doubled, stole third base and scored on a Jared Hughes wild pitch for a 4-0 lead. Goldschmidt has been successful on 10 consecutive steals of third base since the start of last season.
"I think he was fine. That's a steady moment for this ball club," Lovullo said of the awkward play. "[Goldschmidt] doubles, steals third base, really on the first pitch. Great recognition on his part and got us an extra run, which was extremely important. But yeah, he came through it no problem. I know the play looked awkward, but he's a strong guy. He got up and he felt fine."
"It's not like we thought we were going to go undefeated the rest of the year or continue to win every series. You know that [adversity] is going to happen so you just continue to compete and know that you're always one game from turning it around." -- Braun on the Brewers' recent skid
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Because of a technical issue with the replay system, the rules were modified to allow each club its normal manager's challenge, plus unlimited crew-chief reviews for the remainder of the game. That explained why Counsell, after losing his challenge on Keon Broxton's caught-stealing in the second inning, was able to ask the umpires to take a second look at a play at second base in the fourth, when Owings came close to missing the bag as he tried to turn a double play. Both times, the Brewers were on the losing end of rulings.
"I'd venture to say they were all 'call stands'; they just all happened really quickly," Counsell said. "We're not going to replay on bogus stuff. The one at second base, I guess there was nothing to overturn it, but it was certainly worthy of a replay."
Not to be left out, Luvullo challenged a call at first base when David Peralta grounded into a double play in the top of the fifth. The call stood.
"I guess I didn't get the definition exactly right. I thought it was going to be unlimited timing-wise," Lovullo said. "Because everything was down we were going to be able to take our time over the 30-second time limit, but they said unlimited replay period, so we could go to it as many times as we wanted. That was made clear to me when I raced out there after their first replay. It was a loss, so I thought we had lost it for the day, but that wasn't the case."
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs: RHP Zack Godley will continue to start in place of the injured Shelby Miller, who is on the 60-day DL with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Godley has settled into the rotation, going 1-1 with a 2.18 ERA and 14 strikeouts in his last three starts. He gave up three runs on eight hits over seven innings in last outing and will take the mound at 5:10 p.m. MST.
Brewers: Opening Day starter Junior Guerra will make his long-awaited return to the rotation at 7:10 p.m. CT Friday. Guerra, who missed seven weeks with a strained right calf, will be making his second start of the season and first of his career against the D-backs.