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Taijuan Walker kept falling behind in counts, struggling to put his fastball where he wanted it. He said later that Wednesday night’s start against the Los Angeles Dodgers was probably one that would have blown up on him in years past; instead, he found ways around his inconsistencies, finishing with just one run allowed in six innings.

Walker’s was the latest in a string of effective outings from the starting rotation, a group that has set the tone during the franchise-record, 13-game win streak the Diamondbacks will carry into their series opener against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field on Friday night.

The Diamondbacks beat the New York Mets 3-2 at Citi Field on Aug 24. That was the start of the streak. It’s probably no coincidence that it was the same day left-hander Robbie Ray returned from the disabled list, logging five innings and giving up just one run.

The rotation has been nearly untouchable since. The group has been a strength for the Diamondbacks most of the season, but it has taken things to another level recently. Over the 13 games, the rotation has posted a 1.56 ERA, with 90 strikeouts and only six home runs allowed in 80 2/3 innings. The starters have been credited with 12 of the 13 wins.

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Overall, the Diamondbacks’ rotation ranked third in the majors with a 3.46 ERA – just a shade behind the Dodgers (3.38) and Washington Nationals (3.41) prior to Thursday's games – and was second in combined wins above replacement (WAR) behind only the Cleveland Indians.

“It starts with our starting pitching,” Diamondbacks infielder Daniel Descalso said. “Obviously, our starting pitching has been amazing during this run and they’ve really been good all year. Anytime you get a good starting pitching outing, you’re going to have a chance to win the ballgame.”

Each of the team’s primary five starters is enjoying a markedly better season than last year – and, in the case of three of them, a better season than ever before.

Right-hander Zack Greinke seems to be making fewer mistakes with his fastball than last year and has an array of effective and consistent secondary pitches, all of which has allowed him to return to the ace form he’d exhibited prior to last season.

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Ray and right-hander Zack Godley are throwing more effective curveballs than they ever have. Left-hander Patrick Corbin has been up and down, but his recent five-start stretch has been reminiscent of the high mark of his career, during the first half in 2013, a time before he was sidetracked by elbow surgery.

And Walker believes improvements with his slider and curveball have allowed his fastball to be even more effective. He also says experience has been a big factor in his success; he thinks it helped him get through Wednesday night without his best stuff.

“I just think it comes from maturity,” Walker said. “I could have let some things get to me easily, especially a team like that. This year, I’ve been able to slow things down, lock in for one pitch at a time.”

Greinke is not normally one to buy into the unquantifiable, but even he admitted the starters might be feeding off each other during their recent run of success. Greinke mentioned how Ray started Monday’s game with 15 consecutive outs, saying it crossed his mind during his outing on Tuesday night when he didn’t allow a hit through four innings.

“I don’t always think so,” Greinke said, “but we have to be (feeding off each other) with how well it’s working out right now.”

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Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or nick.piecoro@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.

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Friday's game

Padres at Diamondbacks

When: 6:40 p.m.

Where: Chase Field (Roof hotline: 602-462-6262).

Pitchers: Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin (13-11, 3.83) vs. Padres RHP Jordan Lyles (0-2, 6.71).

TV/Radio: FSAZ/KMVP-FM (98.7), KHOV-FM (105.1).

Corbin allowed two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings against the Rockies last weekend at Coors Field. He’s allowed just two earned runs in 35 2/3 innings (0.50 ERA) in his past five starts. … He has faced the Padres three times this season, logging a 3.38 ERA with five walks and 25 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. … Lyles was cut loose by the Rockies at the beginning of August and signed with the Padres a week later. After making five starts in Triple-A El Paso, he had his first outing for the Padres last week, giving up two runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Dodgers. … He has awful career numbers against the Diamondbacks, including a 7.26 ERA with 87 hits allowed in 53 1/3 innings.

Coming up

Saturday: At Chase Field, 5:10 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Zack Godley (7-7, 3.21) vs. Padres RHP Jhoulys Chacin (12-10, 3.96).

Sunday: At Chase Field, 1:10 p.m., Diamondbacks LHP Robbie Ray (12-5, 2.80) vs. Padres RHP Luis Perdomo (7-9, 4.62).

Monday: At Chase Field, 6:40 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.01) vs. Rockies TBA.

Up next

San Diego Padres

Padres update: The Padres entered Thursday’s series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals having dropped the first three games of the series. Prior to that, they weren’t playing too badly, at least not for a club that’s 16 games under .500. From Aug. 14 to the start of the Cardinals series, they were 11-9, including series victories against the Phillies, Cardinals, Giants and Dodgers. Their pitching has been solid of late, posting a 3.06 ERA over the past 23 games. RHP Dinelson Lamet has been impressive over his past nine starts, allowing just 15 runs in 53 innings for a 2.55 ERA. 1B Wil Myers had a hot start to the year, hitting .293 with 11 homers in his first 41 games, but has cooled considerably. He’s hitting just .206 since the middle of July. Their best second-half hitters have been LF Jose Pirela, who is hitting .295 with six homers since the break, and 3B Cory Spangenberg, who is at .293 with eight homers.

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