PHOENIX — For the first time in nearly four years, the Arizona Diamondbacks are nine games over .500.
And every win, it seems, has a different player leading the way.
Reliever J.J. Hoover filled that role in Tuesday night’s 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
The right-hander came on with one out and the bases loaded in the eighth inning and struck out Kevan Smith and Yolmer Sanchez to preserve the one-run lead.
“He had a great fastball tonight, a lot of life on it,” catcher Chris Herrmann said. “We kind of just stuck with it. We threw a couple of sliders just to keep the hitters honest, and they really didn’t have a chance catching up with his fastball.”
Hoover, who traced his success to an alteration in his mechanics, said the early-season Arizona performance is based on “our unity.”
“Everybody’s got everybody’s back,” he said. “We have a singular focus and that’s what’s going on here.”
Jake Lamb and Herrmann homered in the Diamondbacks’ seventh win in eight games.
Patrick Corbin (4-4) settled down after a tough start to get the victory. The left-hander went six innings plus one batter, allowing three runs and scattering eight hits.
Chicago rookie Dylan Covey (0-4), still looking for his first big-league win after eight starts, left the game with one out in the third inning with left oblique soreness.
The same injury sidelined him most of last season.
“Where I am at now after doing some ice and stuff, I feel a lot better compared to last year,” Covey said. “I could hardly move last year so I’m trying to stay optimistic and hopefully it will be a short recovery.”
Jose Abreu cut the lead to 5-4 with a leadoff home run of Jorge De La Rosa to start the eighth, his 100th career homer
“This is something real special for me,” he said, “something that you really appreciate. I am thankful to all of the people that helped me reach this milestone. It is not something I did by myself.”
All nine of his home runs this season have come on the road.
Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 13 tries.
Melky Cabrera and Todd Frazier also homered for Chicago.
The White Sox fell to 3-6 with one to go in a 10-game road trip.
Arizona jumped on Covey in a hurry.
Rey Fuentes led off with a single and, after one out and scored when Paul Goldschmidt lashed a triple to the right-center gap. Lamb, the reigning NL player of the week, hit a 1-1 slider into the right-field seats for his 12th home run of the season and it was 3-0.
Cabrera led off the second with a home run to make it 3-1 and Herrmann countered with an opposite-field shot into the Arizona bullpen and the Diamondbacks led 4-1.
Corbin retired the first two batters in the third but Leury Garcia singled and Frazier sent a 1-1 fastball over the swimming pool beyond right field to slice the lead to 4-3.
Yasmany Tomas singled and scored from first on Brandon Drury’s double to boost the lead to 5-3 in the fourth.
Tomas, not known for his defense, robbed Frazier with a diving grab in left field to end the fifth.
Hoover, who owns a farm, was the winner over fellow Arizona relievers Archie Bradley and Andrew Chafin in a cow-milking competition before the game.
Shamrock Farms provided the cow, named “Pokie,” and sponsored the competition, which kicked off this season’s Grand Slam Milk Drive, part of a nationwide effort to deliver milk to needy families.
“If I want a cow milked, call Hoov,” Chafin said.
White Sox: INF Tyler Saladino (back pain) returned to the lineup at second base, his first start in a week. … OF Avisail Garcia was out of the lineup with the flu but did pinch hit in the eighth and was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Diamondbacks: CF A.J. Pollock (right groin strain) hit in the batting cage and worked out on an anti-gravity treadmill. Manager Torey Lovullo said it’s uncertain whether Pollock will travel with the team on its 11-game road trip that begins Thursday Milwaukee.
Randall Delgado (1-0, 4.05 ERA), normally a long reliever, gets a spot start for Arizona in place of Taijuan Walker, on the DL with a finger blister. Jose Quintana (2-5, 3.92 ERA) starts for Chicago in the finale of its 11-game road trip.
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