Curt Schilling is back, and Randy Johnson will make his much-anticipated return Sunday. That means rookie Brandon Webb can become just another starter in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rotation—not their staff ace.
Webb hopes to resume his brilliant season as the Diamondbacks continue a four-game series with the San Diego Padres at Qualcomm Stadium.
With Schilling and Johnson on the disabled list, Webb was at the forefront of the Diamondbacks’ surprising resurgence in the NL West. The right-hander won seven of his nine decisions, and entered the All-Star break on a four-start winning streak.
On Sunday, Webb allowed four runs—all in the first inning—and six hits over six innings, helping the Diamondbacks to a 7-4 win over division-leading San Francisco.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Brandon Webb,” Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. “This is the first hiccup he’s had as a big leaguer. He gave up four hits, a walk and hit two batters in the first inning, and was just stellar after that.”
Webb is unbeaten in his last six starts, yielding three earned runs or fewer in all but one of those outings. His 2.41 ERA is third in the NL and fifth in the majors.
Brenly began serving a two-game suspension for throwing a ball into the stands in Phoenix a week earlier after being ejected for arguing balls and strikes during a pitching change against San Francisco. Bench coach Glenn Sherlock is managing in Brenly’s absence.
San Diego has lost five in a row, managing one run or fewer in each of its last three games.
STANDINGS: Diamondbacks - 2nd place, 5 GB, NL West. Padres - 5th place, 25 GB, NL West.
DIAMONDBACKS PROBABLE STARTER: Webb (7-2, 2.41 ERA). Webb did not receive a decision in his first start against the Padres on May 23. He allowed two runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings of Arizona’s 5-3 win, striking out six and walking one.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Eaton (4-7, 4.21 ERA). Eaton was ejected in the first inning of his last start, retiring two batters before sparking a bench-clearing brawl by hitting St. Louis’ Albert Pujols on Sunday. Eaton threw only 11 pitches and the Padres went on to a 3-1 loss, putting an end to his two-start winning streak. The right-hander had given up just two runs and 15 hits in 12 2-3 innings while in winning his previous two outings. Eaton is 1-2 with a 4.35 ERA in six career starts against the Diamondbacks.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Diamondbacks - Finley, .318 avg.; Luis Gonzalez, 18 HRs, 67 RBIs and 67 runs; David Dellucci, 8 SBs. Padres - Mark Loretta, .312 avg.; Ryan Klesko, 19 HRs; Rondell White and Klesko, 52 RBIs; Loretta and Xavier Nady, 43 runs; Gary Matthews and Ramon Vazquez, 7 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Diamondbacks, 8-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Diamondbacks - OF Finley, who helped the Padres reach the 1998 World Series before signing with Arizona in ’99, is hitting .514 (19-of-37) against San Diego this year, with four homers and 12 RBIs. Finley was hitting only .223 at the end of April, but has raised his average to .318. … LHP Johnson threw a bullpen session Friday. On Sunday, he will see his first action since having knee surgery 2 1/2 months ago. … Arizona traded INF Tony Womack to Colorado on Friday for a minor league pitcher. Padres - 3B Sean Burroughs has reached base safely in his last 18 games, hitting .358 (24-for-67) with two homers, 13 RBIs and 17 runs. … RHP Scott Linebrink has a 0.96 ERA in his last 11 appearances. … The Padres have not lost six in a row since a nine-game skid in May.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Diamondbacks - 26-21 on the road; Padres - 18-31 at home.
INJURIES: Diamondbacks - C Rod Barajas (wrist), 15-day DL; 2B Junior Spivey (ankle), 15-day DL; OF Danny Bautista (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Koplove (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Johnson (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Bret Prinz (groin), 60-day DL. Padres - INF Keith Lockhart (back), 15-day DL; OF Jason Bay (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Phil Nevin (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Trevor Hoffman (shoulder), 60-day DL.