CINCINNATI - This wasn't how the Arizona Diamondbacks wanted to start a series with playoff ramifications.
Ryan Ludwick drove in his first run of the season with a double, and the Cincinnati Reds kept up their August surge, beating the Diamondbacks 5-3 on Monday night to open their lead in the NL wild card chase.
It's an important four-game series for Arizona, which now trails Cincinnati by six games for the final NL wild card spot. The Diamondbacks have won five of their last seven games, but can't afford to lose any more ground.
"We're hoping to win the next three - that's our goal," catcher Wil Nieves said.
To do that, they'll have to deal with a team that's starting to get itself together. The Reds moved 17 games over .500, matching their season high and keeping the pressure on Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the NL Central race.
"Ludwick got a big hit tonight," Reds starter Bronson Arroyo said. "That was nice for him. I feel like we're getting our whole team now and we're going forward with not too many guys missing."
Arroyo (12-9) won his third straight start, allowing three runs in six innings. Aaron Hill hit a solo homer, extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
J.J. Hoover retired the side in the eighth, his 23rd straight scoreless appearance - a team record and the longest active streak in majors.
Aroldis Chapman gave up a pair of singles in the ninth while getting his 31st save in 36 chances.
Ludwick got his long-awaited RBI during a three-run fourth inning against Randall Delgado (4-4), who had won his last three decisions. The left fielder tore cartilage in his right shoulder while sliding headfirst into third base on opening day.
He returned a week ago and had a pair of singles in 14 at-bats on a road trip, showing a lot of rust from his long layoff while recovering from surgery.
Ludwick doubled just inside the line at third base, the ball skipping past the diving Martin Prado.
"He got a ground ball just out of the reach of Prado," manager Kirk Gibson said. "We could have gotten a double play and been out of it."
Arizona was coming off a 16-inning, 4-2 win in Pittsburgh that left its bullpen worn down and needed a solid start from Delgado, but he came up short.
Delgado threw 114 pitches in only six innings, allowing seven hits. He also walked three and threw a wild pitch. But he lasted six innings, saving the bullpen.
"He did a good job all in all," Gibson said.
• What: Diamondbacks at Reds
• When: 4:10 p.m.
• TV; radio: FSAZ; 1490-AM