Archie Bradley heard the bullpen phone ring, saw the activity behind the fence down the left field line. His third career start was not going well and a quick exit appeared to be on the horizon.
But after trying to be too fine in the strike zone, the Arizona rookie right-hander began pumping in strikes and ended up picking up a gut-check victory.
Bradley shook off a shaky start to pitch six effective innings, lifting the Arizona Diamondbacks to an 8-5 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.
"He stayed the course, really showed a lot of heart tonight," Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said.
Sharp his first two starts, Bradley (2-0) labored against the Rangers, walking five in the first three innings, including one that scored a run. He proved to be effectively wild, though, holding the Rangers to a run and two hits to become fifth pitcher since 1914 to allow two hits or fewer in six-plus innings in two of his first three big league starts.
The Diamondbacks gave him plenty of help.
Chris Owings homered off Yovani Gallardo (2-1) and had a run-scoring single for the Diamondbacks. Mark Trumbo also drove in two runs.
Shortstop Nick Ahmed made some nifty defensive plays to help Arizona turn four double plays and the Diamondbacks outfielders ran down several balls deep in the gaps for outs.
The Rangers had three hits until the ninth inning before scoring four runs. Adrian Beltre hit a solo homer, the 397th of his career, but the Rangers missed too many opportunities early on against Bradley to be in position to complete a comeback.
"When a guy is missing that badly, you try to settle in and find a rhythm," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We didn't get a hit and put a ball in play."
Bradley held his own in his first two big league starts, pitching six scoreless innings in a victory over reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and allowing two runs in 6 2-3 innings to outduel San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner in a no-decision.
Bradley had control issues in his third start, though some of it worked in his favor; the Rangers didn't have a hit until Gallardo's leadoff single in the fifth inning.
Bradley got two quick outs in the first inning, then walked three — one scored a run — and hit a batter in a 37-pitch first inning.
He worked around leadoff walks the next two innings and settled into a rhythm after that to win his third straight start against an opening day starter.
"You say you're not aware of it, but I heard the bullpen phone ring, I saw guys start getting loose and had to figure something out or I wasn't going to make it out of this first inning," Bradley said. "To have the long first and grind through six innings and have my team winning, that's the biggest job of a starting pitcher."
Gallardo labored in his opening day start, allowing four runs in four innings against Oakland, but looked better in wins over Houston and Seattle, allowing two combined runs in 11 2-3 innings.
He wasn't as sharp against Arizona.
The Diamondbacks scored a pair of runs off him in the first inning on consecutive high choppers and a throwing error by Beltre at third.
Trumbo had an RBI groundout in the third inning and added a run-scoring single in the fifth to put Arizona up 5-1. Owings led off the fourth inning with his first home since June 12, 2014, against Houston, and hit a run-scoring triple off Logan Verrett in the eighth.
Gallardo allowed five runs — three earned — and six hits and struck out five in five innings.
"I made some pretty good pitches but obviously the results weren't there," Gallardo said.
Bradley's ERA of 1.45 is the lowest in Arizona history for a pitcher in his first three career starts. He joins Travis Wood (2010), Ken Cloude (1997), Marvin Freeman (1986) and Wayne Simpson (1970) as the only pitchers to allow two hits in six-plus innings in two of his first three starts since 1914.
Ahmed had a double in the fourth inning to end a 0-for-19 streak. ... Texas' Rougned Odor ended a 0-for-12 streak with a single in the seventh. ... Gallardo suffered his first loss (7-1) in 11 career starts against Arizona.
Texas has a day off before playing on Friday, when LHP Wandy Rodriguez will be called up from Triple-A Round Rock to start against the Los Angeles Angels. That will allow the Rangers, who have yet to use a fifth starter, give Colby Lewis some extra rest and push back Ross Detwiler. Texas will have to make a roster move when Rodriguez comes up.