After overtaking the Los Angeles Dodgers for the top spot in the NL West, the Arizona Diamondbacks look to tighten their hold on the division lead when the division rivals play the middle contest of their three-game set on Tuesday.
The Diamondbacks (16-11) beat Los Angeles 9-1 on Monday for their second six-game win streak already in 2007. Arizona hasn’t won seven in a row since April 30-May 6 of last season.
The Diamondbacks recorded season highs in hits (17) and runs to defeat Los Angeles for the first time in three meetings this year. Arizona now leads the Dodgers by one-half game at the top of the NL West.
“Any time you play in our division it’s a big series,” manager Bob Melvin told the team’s official Web site. “Looking on paper the Dodgers are kind of a team that everybody looked to lead the division and whenever you come up against a veteran group like this you know you’re going to have to play your best baseball.”
Staff ace Brandon Webb allowed one run and four hits in seven innings to earn the win, and the bullpen pitched two scoreless innings. Arizona relievers have allowed only three earned runs in 14 innings during the win streak to contribute to a 2.50 overall team ERA in that stretch.
“When your pitcher is out there doing such a good job, it kind of gives you more motivation to go out there and put some runs up and go out there and support him,” Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young, who had the first two-homer game of his career, said of Webb on the team’s official Web site. “It was good to go out there and help him out, help out the cause tonight.”
Orlando Hudson continued his strong play with a 3-for-5 performance - his 12th multihit game of the season. The second baseman is batting .352, and has reached base in all 27 games. He also has a .385 lifetime average against Dodgers pitching.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles (15-11) suffered its fifth straight loss at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers, who went 49-32 at home last year, are 6-7 in Los Angeles in 2007.
Brad Penny (3-0, 1.95 ERA) takes the mound trying to turn things around. The Dodgers are 4-1 in Penny’s starts this season, although the lone loss came last Thursday. The right-hander gave up three runs in six innings as Los Angeles fell 5-4 to San Francisco.
Penny allowed one run and five hits in seven innings to beat Arizona on April 16. He is 6-2 with a 2.03 ERA in 12 career starts against the Diamondbacks.
Arizona counters with Livan Hernandez (2-1, 3.94), who allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings to earn the win in the Diamondbacks’ 7-4 victory over San Diego on Thursday.
The right-hander went 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts against Los Angeles in 2006.
Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal is hitting just .203 this year, but is a career .345 (20-for-58) hitter with four home runs versus Hernandez.