The Arizona Diamondbacks may be hot lately, but their ace has been unstoppable.
Arizona (66-51) has won 16 of its last 19 games, and scored its most runs during that stretch in Friday’s 11-4 win over the Nationals (53-63). Conor Jackson went 3-for-3 and drove in four runs with two homers.
The Diamondbacks’ third baseman, who also had a sacrifice bunt, improved to 6-for-12 versus the Nationals this season and is batting .464 (13-for-28) against them during his career. Arizona maintained its three-game lead over San Diego in the NL West and is now trying for its seventh straight series victory.
The Diamondbacks have won all five meetings with the Nationals this season - outscoring them 32-10 and posting a 2.00 ERA - and will turn to Webb (11-8, 2.92 ERA) to continue that stretch. The right-hander has won three straight starts, including a 3-0 shutout of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.
He scattered seven hits, didn’t issue a walk and struck out four for his fifth career shutout and 10th complete game in 153 starts.
“We saw kind of the return of the sinker today, and that’s how you stay in games for nine innings - throwing your sinker for strikes, getting early-count outs and ground balls,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. “He had his sinker going on both sides of the plate and was throwing his off-speed just enough. He’s on quite a roll.”
The NL’s reigning Cy Young Award winner extended his scoreless streak to 24 consecutive innings, including a pair of seven-inning outings against Florida and San Diego. Webb, though, is still a long way from Orel Hershiser’s record of 59 established during his 1988 Cy Young campaign with the Dodgers.
Webb set the Diamondbacks’ franchise record with 30 straight scoreless frames from May 20-June 5, 2006.
“I’d like to obviously keep it going as long as possible, but I’m not going to be able to do it forever I don’t think, but I’ll try to do it as long as I can,” Webb told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “I had 30 scoreless last year, so if I could beat that, it would be pretty good.”
Webb is 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA in five career games versus the Nationals, including a 7-1 win on April 7 when he held them to one run over seven innings while striking out eight.
John Lannan (1-0, 3.71) makes his fourth major league start for Washington on Saturday. The left-hander is coming off a solid outing on Monday when he held San Francisco to one run and eight hits over seven innings in a 3-2, 11-inning defeat.
“I think the kid did a tremendous job,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said of Lannan. “It’s not easy for a kid who started in A-ball this season with this crowd and everything.”
Lannan will be making his first career start versus the Diamondbacks.
Washington first baseman Dmitri Young has been sidelined the last two games with a sore hamstring.