Brandon Webb takes the mound for the Diamondbacks when they continue a four-game series against San Diego at Petco Park on Tuesday night.
Arizona’s lead over the Padres (71-59) was cut to just two games following San Diego’s 3-1 win in Monday’s opener. Cy Young candidate Jake Peavy allowed just one run and three hits in seven innings, striking out 11 to give him an NL-leading 197 for the season. He also became the Padres’ career leader in strikeouts with 1,047.
“This is a huge series for us, and we know that,” Peavy said. “We’re playing catch-up. We’re on top of the pack in the wild-card race, but we’re not focused on that. We want to be division champions and we feel like we can do that.”
One of Peavy’s biggest threats for the Cy Young is Webb (14-8, 2.63 ERA) , who has won his last six starts, including three shutouts. He entered Wednesday’s start against the Milwaukee Brewers with a 42-inning scoreless streak, which ended with the third batter of the game when Prince Fielder singled in a run.
The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner finished the game by allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 3-2 win. He fell 17 innings shy of Orel Hershiser’s major league record of 59 straight scoreless innings set in 1988.
Webb said he felt a little bit of relief when the streak ended.
“The attention that it got, every day coming in and having to deal with it— for it to be over, I can kind of take a deep breath and be like, ‘Good, let’s just go win some ballgames,’” he said.
Webb’s accomplishment coincides with the Diamondbacks’ most successful stretch of the season. He has not lost since July 20 against the Chicago Cubs and following that loss, the Diamondbacks have gone 24-10, with their starters going 17-9.
“We’ve had some success this year, and we don’t have it without him,” manager Bob Melvin.
Webb is 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA in four starts against the Padres this year with 36 strikeouts over 28 2-3 innings. Mike Cameron is 2-for-14 with seven strikeouts against Webb in those games.
The right-hander is also 2-2 with a 2.87 ERA in seven career outings at Petco Park.
The Diamondbacks (74-58) received a solid start Monday from Livan Hernandez, who took a shutout into the seventh inning, but he was outpitched by Peavy. Arizona’s only run of the game came on a sixth-inning homer by Eric Byrnes.
“The later in the season you go, the more energy it seems that each game has,” Melvin said. “With those two pitchers on the mound pitching as well as they did, yeah, if felt like there was some energy.”
The Diamondbacks will face San Diego’s Justin Germano (6-7, 4.24) on Tuesday. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.54 ERA in his last seven starts. The Padres won his start on Thursday against the Mets, however, when he allowed four runs - three earned - and five hits in five-plus innings of a 9-8, 10-inning victory.
Germano is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance against the Diamondbacks. This will be his third time facing them this season.