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D-backs' Miley throws seven frames of two-run ball

With a win and a little help from a division rival, the D-backs might be heading toward their most enjoyable off-day of the season Thursday.

Following Tuesday night's 5-3 Pirates victory, Arizona's magic number to clinch the National League West sits at three with seven games remaining.

If left-hander Wade Miley and the D-backs complete the series win Wednesday against right-hander Ross Ohlendorf and the Pirates, then Dodgers wins over the Giants Wednesday and Thursday would give the D-backs their first National League West title since 2007. And they'd get that formality over with before facing the Giants in a three-game series at Chase Field this weekend.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle expressed his admiration for the D-backs on Tuesday, and he got his wish that they won't clinch until his club is on its way out of town.

"It would be good to see for the game after we get out of here. I wish good things for these guys because there are a number of guys that I'm connected to over there. ... I would like to see them get the opportunity to take the next step," Hurdle said. "The best team will win, but there are teams that you will pull for a little harder than others. I'm glad to see their hard work and perseverance pay off so that they can be in the position that they're in."

But to get into position to clinch, the D-backs will have to get past Ohlendorf, who could be pitching for his future with the Pirates organization, as the club has yet to make a decision whether it will tender the right-hander a contract this winter.

Ohlendorf struggled mightily over his first six starts this season before putting it all together Thursday against the Dodgers, allowing two earned runs on four hits with six strikeouts over seven innings for his first win. But his biggest confidence booster in that outing may have been the unlikely three-run homer he slugged.

"I think it helps anybody's confidence, as far as feeling good about yourself," Hurdle said. "Ross hasn't had a lot of things to feel good about. I don't think that hurt by any means. He was mobbed by his teammates, and that hasn't happened in a long time. So I think it might have been a part of it."

Pirates: Alvarez to skip opening of winter ball
Pedro Alvarez hasn't ruled out the possibility of joining a Dominican Winter League club at some point this offseason, but he has decided that he won't be heading to the Dominican Republic for the start of winter ball. Alvarez, whose average is just .190 after going 1-for-4 with a solo homer Tuesday night, said he wanted to get his feet under him and prepare for next year rather than rush into winter ball.

"As we talked about it internally, we thought it was best to let him push the reset button, let him get home, let him get working on his offseason strength and conditioning program," general manager Neal Huntington said. "If he doesn't [end up playing later this offseason], we fully expect that he'll come into Spring Training ready to go physically, mentally and fundamentally to have a good season."

• Reliever Jose Veras has already set a career high in appearances and has an shot at appearing in 80 games before the season comes to an end. Veras has pitched in 78 games, which ranks second among all National League relievers, after throwing one-third of an inning Tuesday night. Chris Resop is also among the NL leaders in appearances with 73.

D-backs: Hall diagnosed with prostate cancer
President/CEO Derrick Hall announced Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, a serious condition caught "very early" that he intends to fight with an optimistic outlook.

"I feel blessed to have the support," Hall said. "This organization is the closest it's ever been from the players all the way up.

"To me, more importantly, this is an opportunity to spread the word. To educate and get men to be tested. It's very prevalent and I see this as an opportunity to share the message and educate others to take care of themselves."

• Paul Goldschmidt went 0-for-5 on Tuesday night, hours after manager Kirk Gibson all but announced the rookie would be his everyday first baseman the rest of the season.

"Goldie is going to get the majority of the time as long as everything is fine," Gibson said about the right-handed slugger who's hitting .254 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 41 games.

That means less playing time for the left-handed-hitting Lyle Overbay, as Gibson said, "He may get a spot start here or there and as a pinch-hitter off the bench. Pretty much I've been playing my guys in a pretty set lineup."

Worth noting
• Tuesday's 5-3 win at Chase Field was the Pirates' 35th road victory of the season.

• Despite Tuesday's loss, the D-backs have won 20 of their last 27 games dating back to Aug. 23 -- the most wins by any team in the Majors since that date. Comments