Diamondbacks starter Josh Collmenter utilized his unorthodox delivery by throwing an assortment of deceptive pitches to a young Astros’ offense Wednesday night at Chase Field, as the 25-year-old right-hander led Kirk Gibson’s squad to a stellar 6-3 victory over Houston en route to Arizona officially taking a half-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
Arizona improved to 5-1 on the season versus the Astros.
Collmenter (7-7) allowed just two earned runs on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts over seven innings to pick up his seventh win.
He carried a no-hitter into the fifth until Astros right fielder Brian Bogusevic led off the inning with a single to right in what turned out to be Houston’s most productive frame against Collmenter.
Astros rookie Henry Sosa, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday, had a rocky start in his major league debut by surrendering three runs in the bottom of the first, before settling down over the next five innings.
The 26-year-old Sosa, who was acquired by Houston on July 19 as part of a trade that sent Jeff Keppinger to the Giants, demonstrated exceptional perseverance to keep the Astros within striking distance.
Willie Bloomquist welcomed Sosa to the big leagues with a leadoff homer in the first, with Ryan Roberts following with a double to deep center.
Miguel Montero and Kelly Johnson drew crucial walks to set up first baseman Paul Goldschmidt’s two-run single, making it 3-0.
Collmenter and Sosa engaged in an impressive pitchers’ duel over the next three innings until the Astros cut the lead to 3-2 in the fifth, thanks in part to RBI singles from Clint Barmes and Humberto Quintero.
The four hits yielded by Collmenter all occurred in the fifth.
Right fielder Justin Upton, who had a game-high three hits, cracked his 33rd double of the season and scored on Chris Young’s fifth-inning RBI double to give Collmenter a two-run cushion.
Sosa (0-1) allowed four earned runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts over 100 pitches (62 for strikes) in six innings.
“He did really well out there,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “In the fifth inning, he gave up the two doubles for their fourth run, but at the same time, we saw a guy with a good arm and pretty good stuff. I like the way he was able to find himself and come back, especially in his first major league start. He made some good adjustments with a few things and worked all the way through.”
Mills turned the ball over to right-hander Wilton Lopez, who surrendered two consecutive one-out singles to Roberts and Upton in the bottom of the seventh, thus forcing the second-year Astros skipper to begin playing the matchup game with his bullpen.
Left-hander Sergio Escalona executed his job by striking out Montero, but Barmes was unable to handle a throw from right-hander Jeff Fulchino while covering second on Upton’s stolen-base attempt, which allowed Roberts to score from third to give Arizona a 5-2 lead.
The Diamondbacks were able to contain an Astros’ rally in the eighth after right-handed reliever Bryan Shaw gave up back-to-back singles to rookies J.B. Shuck and Jose Altuve prior to walking left fielder J.D. Martinez to load the bases with one out.
Slugger Carlos Lee cut the lead to 5-3 with an RBI groundout, but Bogusevic grounded out with runners at second and third to end the inning.
Left fielder Gerardo Parra regained the run for Arizona in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI triple to score Johnson, who singled and stole second to lead off the inning against Astros reliever Aneury Rodriguez.
David Hernandez tossed a perfect ninth for his 10th save.
Arizona went a horrid 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base, but playoff-caliber teams find ways to win.
They did so by maximizing all five of their extra-base hits.
Rookie Jimmy Paredes had the lone extra-base hit — a double in the fifth — for an Astros squad that struggled to figure out Collmenter.
“We have seen him before, but there were a couple of guys that were with us when we did see him before,” Mills said. “His delivery is odd and different. Once we did see it, we started putting some things together. We scored a couple of runs and had a couple of more guys on base with an opportunity to do so.”
Houston didn’t have a single player record a multi-hit game.
The Astros will attempt to split the four-game series Thursday night when veteran ace Brett Myers (3-12, 4.76 ERA) gets the starting nod against Arizona left-hander Joe Saunders (8-9, 3.61 ERA).
First pitch is scheduled for 8:40 p.m. CT.
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