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D-backs sweep Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Max Kranick walks off the field after being removed in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Pavin Smith and Daulton Varsho have hit back to back in the lineup for a few seasons while coming up through Arizona’s system. But they had never hit consecutive home runs — until Wednesday.

And they picked a good time to do it: in the seventh inning of a tied game. Smith hit his ninth of the season and Varsho followed with his second, and the Diamondbacks held on for their fourth straight victory, 6-4 over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“It finally happened,” Smith said. “We’ve been doing this for three, four years and always talked about it.”

Smith connected on a changeup from Duane Underwood Jr. (2-3) leading off the seventh to break a 4-4 tie, and Varsho followed with a blast to right against a fastball.

“They’re not missing the pitches they’re looking for,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.

The Diamondbacks may have lost their hottest hitter, however. Lovullo said after the game that Josh Rojas has a dislocated left pinkie, suffered on a failed steal attempt in the eighth.

The finger was set back into place and Rojas was having tests after the game, Lovullo said. “We’re hoping for the best-case scenario and he’s day to day, but we’ll have to see.”

Rojas, who mostly plays second base but has seen time at shortstop and in the outfield, is batting .390 in his last 12 games for Arizona. He was 2 for 4 with a run scored, a double, a walk and a stolen base.

Nick Ahmed had three of Arizona’s 12 hits against six Pirates pitchers.

The Diamondbacks won their 30th game of the season — against an MLB-worst 68 losses — and their fourth in a row to match their season-best winning streak. They won four straight from April 18-22, including three games at Cincinnati which was their only previous sweep of the season.

Brett de Geus (2-0) walked John Nogowski to force in the tying run in the seventh after the Pirates loaded the bases on three singles against Joe Mantiply. But de Geus retired Jacob Stallings on a double play to end the inning.

“We got out of a bases-loaded jam,” Lovullo said. “It was real nice to see that type of success.”

For the Pirates, a promising run that began with three consecutive wins against the NL East-leading Mets — capped by a big comeback on Stallings’ walk-off grand slam last Saturday — has turned sour.

After scoring six runs in the first against New York on Sunday, the Pirates ended up losing 7-6 and now have lost four straight, the last three to the team with baseball’s worst record. The Pirates now head to San Francisco to play the NL West-leading Giants.

“We’re getting hits, but we’re not capitalizing on the run-scoring opportunities. It’s frustrating,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.

“We played well that whole Mets series. We’re going have to regroup on Thursday (an off day) because we’re getting ready to play one of the best teams in baseball.”

All-Star Bryan Reynolds had three hits for the Pirates.

Max Kranick, pitching on his 24th birthday, started for Pittsburgh after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier in the week. He lasted three-plus innings, giving up seven hits and four runs.

Trainer’s room

Pirates: Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said RHP Chase De Jong, who was placed on the injured list after starting Monday’s game, had an MRI on his left knee and the team is awaiting results. … LHP Stephen Brault (left lat strain) continues his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis and will get another start there, Tomczyk said.

Tuesday’s game

Josh VanMeter began the night on the bench with a .182 batting average. The Arizona Diamondbacks infielder didn’t get into the game until the fifth inning — and ended up a homer short of the cycle.

VanMeter had three hits, including a triple and a double in an eight-run seventh, and the Diamondbacks roared back to beat the Pirates 11-6 on Tuesday.

Nogowski hit his first major league home run and Gregory Polanco also went deep for Pittsburgh, which led 5-1 after 4¢ innings.

Pittsburgh starter Tyler Anderson lasted six innings, giving up three runs. The lefty retired the first 10 batters he faced before permitting a run in the fourth.

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