Brandon Webb tries to pick up his eighth win and remain undefeated on the season when he takes the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks in the opener of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.
The Diamondbacks (27-19) are coming off a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh, and have a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West. Webb (7-0, 2.44 ERA) has been an integral part of that success.
Arizona has won each of the last eight games the right-hander has started, including a 13-0 victory over Atlanta last Saturday. Webb threw his first complete game of the year in that outing, allowing four hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.
“When we play when he’s pitching, we feel like we’re going to win and that’s really what a No. 1 guy gives you and he has the stats to back him up,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said.
Webb agreed to a $19.5 million, four-year contract with the Diamondbacks in January, and has accepted the responsibility of being their top starter.
“It wasn’t like Bob Melvin or (general manager) Josh Byrnes said, ‘We now have these expectations—X, Y and Z—for Brandon Webb,”’ Arizona pitching coach Bryan Price said. “He took that on himself.”
Webb, who started 6-0 last season, has allowed more than three runs in just one of his 10 starts and one run or fewer in five outings.
Webb is 3-2 with a 3.05 ERA in six starts against the Reds (27-20), and allowed one run and seven hits in eight innings in a 7-1 win against them on May 5. He is 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two starts at Great American Ball Park.
Cincinnati has been inconsistent of late. The Reds are 4-3 in their last seven contests, averaging 10.0 runs in the wins and 2.7 in the defeats.
Eric Milton (2-1, 7.04) will make his fifth start of the season on Friday for the Reds, and his second since coming off the disabled list following left knee surgery.
Milton allowed five runs and a season-high 10 hits in Cincinnati’s 7-6, 10-inning loss to Detroit on Saturday. The left-hander is 2-1 with a 4.56 ERA in four starts against Arizona.
The Diamondbacks, opening a 10-game road trip, have won just three of their last eight games away from home. They’ve won eight of their last 10 overall, however, and took two of three from Cincinnati in early May.
Cincinnati’s Adam Dunn was given the day off in Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Milwaukee despite hitting three homers in his last five games. He is 14-for-83 (.169) with four homers and 14 RBIs in 24 games against the Diamondbacks, though, and just 2-for-16 (.125) with one home run and six strikeouts against Webb.
Reds shortstop Felipe Lopez is 8-for-13 (.615) with a double and a home run against Arizona this season.