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CHC@ARI: D-backs score seven runs in the first inning

PHOENIX -- The first inning has proved to be an Achilles' heel for the D-backs this year.

Thursday night, however, the D-backs used a seven-run first as a springboard to beating up the Cubs, 11-2, at Chase Field.

The win was the third in the past four games for the D-backs while the Cubs have dropped four in a row and six of their last seven.

Coming into the game, the D-backs had been outscored, 26-9, in the opening frame, a fact that had their manager Kirk Gibson grumbling after Wednesday's loss to the Phillies.

What Gibson saw in Thursday's first, though, had him smiling.

Cubs starter Ryan Dempster struggled with his control early and the D-backs made him pay. After a leadoff double by Chris Young, Dempster walked Kelly Johnson and hit Justin Upton with a pitch to load the bases.

Stephen Drew unloaded them when he hit an 0-2 offering from Dempster into the right-field bleachers for his first career grand slam and a 4-0 Arizona lead.

On the pitch before the grand slam, Drew took what he thought was a ball only to have plate umpire Dan Bellino call it a strike.

"I got a little frustrated, just stepped back and took a couple of deep breaths," Drew said. "Just get back in and battle and compete and I just got a really good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it."

One out after the homer, Dempster walked three straight batters and allowed an RBI single to his counterpart Barry Enright and a two-run single to Young before being removed with the D-backs up, 7-0.

"We took advantage of that," Gibson said of Dempster's first-inning control issues. "We were patient enough. Dempster was obviously struggling. We did a very good job of letting him continue to struggle, and when they got it over, we pounded it."

"The D-backs are the kind of team that if you don't locate the ball, they can pound you," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "If you don't locate at this level, you get pounded a lot."

Arizona continued to tack on the runs thanks to Miguel Montero, who doubled home a run in the second and hit a two-run homer in the third as the D-backs went up, 10-1.

"We kept pushing," Gibson said. "I think you've got to go out there like it's 0-0. You can't be careless. That game could have tightened up quickly.

The support made a winner of Enright (1-2). It was the right-hander's first win since Sept. 1, 2010.

"They spotted me a pretty good lead in the first inning and it took the pressure or tension off," Enright said.

Earlier in the week, Gibson shared a couple of thoughts with Enright. The first was that Enright was not attacking hitters in the same aggressive manner he did when he had success last year.

"This start, especially, I think I had better tempo, better kind of attacking the hitters and a lot more aggression behind every pitch," Enright said.

The second was that he may be tipping his pitches a bit. So to correct that, Enright changed the way grips his pitches prior to starting his delivery.

Not only did his offense support Enright, but his defense did as well. Gerardo Parra made a nice diving play in left and third baseman Melvin Mora slid and backhanded a ball that could have gone for extra bases.

No catch was more important, though, than the one turned in by Justin Upton to end the fifth.

Enright had walked the bases loaded and with two outs, Starlin Castro hit a looper down the right-field line. Upton raced toward the line and made a diving catch to end the inning and save possibly three runs.

"Huge," Enright said of Upton's grab. "If that ball would have fallen, it would have been a different-looking game or a different feel at the end of this. All those plays help your confidence, help you get through those innings." Comments