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Gallen, Thomas push the Diamondbacks to a 5th straight win, 6-3 over the Rangers

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zac Gallen throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zac Gallen throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

BY DAVID BRANDT contributing

PHOENIX (AP) — Zac Gallen believes he should be one of the front-runners for the National League Cy Young award.

Bullying one of the best lineups in the American League on Tuesday night proved his point.

Gallen struck out 11 over six stellar innings, Alek Thomas had a spectacular diving catch on the warning track for the first out of the ninth and the Arizona Diamondbacks held off the skidding Texas Rangers 6-3 on Tuesday night.

“My job is just to keep us rolling,” Gallen said. “We have some really important games coming up the next five to six weeks, so anything to keep us in the right direction.”

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Tommy Pham extended his hitting streak to 13 games for the D-backs, who swept the two-game series and have won five straight games, helping their cause in a crowded National League wild-card race. They’re currently a half-game ahead of the Giants and Reds for the final spot.

The Rangers have lost six straight and are just a half-game ahead of the Astros for first place in the AL West.

Arizona led 6-1 after six innings, but Texas cut the margin to 6-3 in the seventh on Corey Seager’s two-run single. The Rangers loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but closer Paul Sewald wiggled out of the jam by striking out Mitch Garver and coaxing a groundout from Travis Jankowski to get his 27th save.

It was the first out of the ninth that got the most attention — Sewald was still in awe of Thomas’ catch several minutes after the game. The center fielder ran deep into the right-center gap before leaving his feet to snag a hard-hit ball by Marcus Semien.

Sewald’s mouth dropped open when Thomas leapt to his feet with the ball.

“Until everyone cheered, I didn’t really think he had it,” Sewald said, laughing. “As a pitcher, I assume the worst.”

Gallen (14-5) dominated a potent Rangers lineup for most of the night, forcing awkward swings from normally good hitters. The only blemish was a solo homer surrendered to Garver in the sixth. He gave up seven hits and walked one.

The right-hander has thrown at least six innings in 12 of his past 13 starts.

Pham — who was the hero in Monday night’s 11-inning win — was an under-the-radar acquisition by the D-backs at the trade deadline. The veteran outfielder has provided a huge boost to a struggling lineup, settling in as a middle-of-the-order run producer. He extended his hitting streak in the fifth with an RBI single that made it 4-0.

The D-backs took a 3-0 lead in the second inning after loading the bases with no outs. The first run scored when Jace Peterson grounded into a double play and then Gabriel Moreno followed with an RBI single. The final run of the inning came home after speedy rookie Corbin Carroll reached on an infield single, beating a wild throw by Texas pitcher Jon Gray that allowed Moreno to score.

Gray (8-7) never appeared to completely recover from that 39-pitch second. The right-hander gave up five runs, including four earned, over 4 1/3 innings. He gave up seven hits and walked four.

Texas just missed a pair of homers — one in the fifth and another in the seventh. Semien and Leody Taveras both hit balls off the top of the wall and had to settle for doubles. Semien, Seager, Garver, Nathaniel Lowe and Ezequiel Duran all had two hits and the Rangers outhit the D-backs 13-9.

“We were battling back, we hit some balls hard,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “We did have some bad luck.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo told reporters that RHP Zach Davies (back) is expected to return from the 15-day injured list and pitch Saturday against the Reds.

UP NEXT

Rangers: Travel to face Minnesota in a four-game series starting Thursday. Texas plans to start LHP Andrew Heaney (9-6, 4.27 ERA) in the first game while Minnesota will throw RHP Pablo Lopez (9-6, 3.51 ERA)

Diamondbacks: Host Cincinnati in a four-game series starting Thursday. Arizona will start RHP Merrill Kelly (10-5, 3.13 ERA) on Thursday.