Brandon Webb has put up a lot of zeros during his impressive scoreless streak. But he also has the task of helping the Arizona Diamondbacks avoid a sweep at home Wednesday night when their three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers concludes.
Webb (13-8, 2.63 ERA) enters this game with a 42-inning scoreless streak, having pitched three consecutive shutouts. He is tied with Rube Foster for the 12th-longest run all-time, and it’s the longest since Orel Hershiser established the record at 59 with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988.
“It’s still a ways off,” Webb said after throwing a two-hitter Friday in a 4-0 victory at Atlanta. “It’s going to be real tough to do. I’m just going to go out there and try to throw up zeros as much as I can.”
Hershiser has chosen to be low-key as Webb pursues his mark. Hershiser noted that the previous holder of the record - former Dodgers great Don Drysdale - did likewise in 1988 as Hershiser pitched four scoreless innings on Aug. 30, 1988, before reeling off five straight shutouts from Sept. 5-23 and closed the regular season with 10 shutout innings in Los Angeles’ 2-1, 16-inning defeat to San Diego on Sept. 28.
“That’s the way Drysdale did it,” Hershiser told MLB.com. “He just left it alone. I don’t want Webb having to respond to my comments. I’m rooting for him. I hope he can do it. We’ll see. I hope. He’s a great pitcher.”
Webb, whose streak is the fifth-longest since 1940 behind Hershiser, Drysdale (58), Bob Gibson (47) and Sal Maglie (45), appreciated Hershiser’s support.
“Coming from someone like that that actually holds the record that I’m chasing, for him to give his best wishes for me to go out there and break it says a lot about him,” Webb told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site.
The right-hander has walked just eight in the five starts during the streak. He was efficient Friday, facing just two batters over the minimum while throwing 73 of 102 pitches for strikes.
Webb, who did not face the Brewers in Milwaukee when the teams played a four-game series July 16-19, is 1-1 with a 2.68 ERA in six lifetime starts against them. He pitched seven shutout innings and struck out 10 in an 8-1 victory at home on July 15, 2006, in his most recent appearance versus Milwaukee.
Arizona (71-56), though, enters this game trying to avoid its first three-game sweep at home since June 27-29, 2006, when Seattle accomplished the feat. The Diamondbacks have been outscored 16-4 in the first two games after a 7-4 defeat Wednesday, but remained 3 1/2 games ahead of the Padres in the NL West.
This is just the second series the Diamondbacks have lost since the All-Star break, but both have been to the Brewers.
“As well as we were playing, I didn’t think we were going to win every series for the rest of the year. That’s a little unrealistic,” said Arizona outfielder Eric Byrnes, who was 3-for-5 with a double, a stolen base and an RBI. “I think the thing is to come back tomorrow and win that game. But the Brewers, they’ve had our number this year.”
The Brewers (65-61) remained tied with the Chicago Cubs for the NL Central lead. Dave Bush allowed two runs and six innings, and Gabe Gross capped a five-run seventh with his second career slam for Milwaukee, which has won four of its last five on the road.
“I sense my offense is getting hot,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “My offense is starting to get it together and score runs and my pitching staff is too. It was just a matter of time.”
Jeff Suppan (8-10, 4.89) tries once more to get his first win since June 22 as the Brewers try to complete their first sweep at Arizona since Aug. 21-23, 2000. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.88 ERA in his last 10 starts and allowed four runs in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-3 loss to Cincinnati on Friday.
Suppan, who also was the odd man out in July, is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in five career starts against the Diamondbacks.