Gutierrez is filling in nicely as closer

Gutierrez is filling in nicely as closer

SAN DIEGO -- Even if Juan Gutierrez is merely filling in as the D-backs closer for the final month of the season, the club has to like what it has seen so far from the young right-hander.

Gutierrez converted consecutive save chances on Monday and Tuesday, pushing his total up to five saves since taking over the role when Chad Qualls went down with a dislocated left kneecap on August 31.

Those two saves helped Arizona win the series in San Diego, and as the club returns home on Friday to face Colorado -- a team in the midst of a playoff push -- Gutierrez feels confident he can protect a lead when given the chance.

"I feel really good, especially my arm right now is feeling really good," Gutierrez said. "I'm feeling comfortable out there and just trying to do the job."

Similarly, manager A.J. Hinch has confidence in Gutierrez, having seen some signs of improvement since Gutierrez stepped into the closer's role.

"I think the attention comes to him more now because he's filling in as the closer for the most part," Hinch said. "He's got a higher profile. He has pitched very, very well since the All-Star break. I think a lot of that can be attributed to how he is improving at getting left-handed hitters out."

With just a few weeks left in the season, Gutierrez will look to continue his success, starting Friday night as the D-backs begin a nine-game homestand against the Rockies, Giants and Padres.

"I'm looking to finish strong and just keep doing what I've been doing," Gutierrez said. "I just want to get a strong finish to the season."

Pitching matchup
ARI: RHP Kevin Mulvey (0-1, 11.88 ERA)
Mulvey's first Major League start did not go as he'd hoped. The right-hander allowed six runs on 11 hits in just four innings against the Brewers at Chase Field. Mulvey is taking the place of Yusmeiro Petit in the rotation, likely for the rest of the season. The club wants to get a look at the right-hander acquired in the deal that sent Jon Rauch to the Twins. Mulvey is no stranger to being traded. A second-round pick by the Mets in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, he was dealt to the Twins as part of the Johan Santana deal. Mulvey, who was 5-8 with a 3.93 ERA in 24 starts for Triple-A Rochester this year, also appeared in two games in relief for the D-backs since joining the team on Sept. 1. He made his big league debut on July 20 with the Twins.

COL: RHP Jason Marquis (15-11, 3.78 ERA)
Marquis faltered against a team he had handled well this season when he allowed five runs to San Diego on Sunday as the Rockies fell 6-3 in the series finale. In his previous two starts against the Padres, Marquis yielded just one run over 16 innings, but San Diego touched him for three runs in the decisive sixth after he walked Everth Cabrera with the bases loaded, one of three unintentional walks in the inning. After having his start bumped up one day but still pitching on normal rest, Marquis faces an Arizona team that scored six runs against him in a loss on April 20.

Tidbits
Infielder Ryan Roberts was given a day off on Wednesday after suffering through a 7-for-49 stretch over his past 13 games. "He's probably our most emotional player, and he's starting to wear his emotions even more than normal," Hinch said before Wednesday's game. "I think he's mentally grinding pretty hard. This is more of a mental day than a physical day heading into the off-day, just to clear his mind and get him back on track." ... With another late-inning home run on Tuesday, Mark Reynolds improved his performance from the seventh inning on to a Major League-best 18 home runs and .693 slugging percentage.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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On radio
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Up next
• Saturday: Diamondbacks (Max Scherzer, 9-9, 4.05) vs. Rockies (Jason Hammel, 8-8, 4.38), 5:10 p.m. MST
• Sunday: Diamondbacks (Billy Buckner, 2-6, 6.79) vs. Rockies (TBD), 1:10 p.m. MST
• Monday: Diamondbacks (Dan Haren, 14-8, 2.79) vs. Giants (TBD), 6:40 p.m. MST

Tim Powers is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.