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.
They're trying to catch 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. It was the left-hander's first appearance since he gave up a two-run homer to Jonathan Lucroy for a 7-6 loss in Milwaukee on Friday night.
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. Manager Dusty Baker has dropped him from the cleanup spot to sixth in the order while he gets his swing straightened out.
Ludwick doubled just inside the line at third base, the ball skipping just out of the reach of 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."
The Diamondbacks were coming off a 16-inning, 4-2 win in Pittsburgh that left their bullpen worn down. They needed a solid start from Delgado, who came up short.
Todd Frazier hit a solo homer. Brandon Phillips had a triple among his three hits off Delgado and scored a pair of runs. Zack Cozart drove in two with a sacrifice fly and a groundout, helping the Reds pull ahead 5-1 after five innings.
"We just missed some balls down the middle," Nieves said. "You miss with some fastballs down the middle and they're going to put some hits together."
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. "If you watch Randall this year, he keeps his composure. He toughed it out."
The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the sixth, and Martin Prado singled for a pair of runs that cut it to 5-3. Arroyo allowed seven hits but didn't walk a batter for the third straight start.
Notes: Diamondbacks C Miguel Montero, on the DL since Aug. 1 with a strained lower back, is scheduled to catch on Wednesday, take a day off, then catch Friday and Saturday. He'll be evaluated then. ... LH Matt Reynolds, on the DL since June 10 with a strained left elbow, is playing catch but hasn't thrown off a mound. ... Hill is 8-for-21 career against Arroyo with three homers. ... Phillips is 8-for-16 during a four-game hitting streak. ... The Diamondbacks will start LH Patrick Corbin, who hasn't won on the road since June 2, in the second game of the series. LH Tony Cingrani makes his first career appearance against the Diamondbacks.