Parra looks to win his seventh straight start by outpitching the NL leader in victories when the Milwaukee Brewers take on Webb and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday in the finale of a four-game set.
Webb (12-4, 3.21 ERA) won the NL Cy Young Award in 2006, made his second straight All-Star team in 2007 en route to an 18-10 season and this year, he’s tied with Joe Saunders of the Los Angeles Angels for the major league lead in wins.
His less heralded opponent in this matchup, however, has pitched significantly better over the past month.
Parra (8-2, 3.95) has won six consecutive outings, posting a 2.41 ERA, and is unbeaten in 10 starts since losing at Houston on May 3. Webb, meanwhile, is 3-4 with a 4.07 ERA in eight games since opening the season 9-0.
Webb, though, did avoid losing a third straight start Saturday as he equaled a season high with eight strikeouts in beating Florida, allowing two runs in six innings of a 6-2 victory.
Parra pitched on the same day and was even better, yielding two hits and striking out six in seven scoreless innings of a 5-1 victory at Minnesota. The rookie left-hander has given up three runs in his last 19 innings.
“You’re seeing a young major league pitcher evolve into a pretty good major league pitcher,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “He’s been at the top of our prospect list for a long time and now he’s gotten to the big leagues and is starting to feel comfortable and have some success.”
The Diamondbacks (42-43) already are familiar with just how good Parra is. He held them to one run and four hits in seven innings on June 4, tying a career high with eight strikeouts in a 10-1 win.
That victory let Milwaukee (46-38) complete a three-game home sweep of the Diamondbacks. The Brewers now look to win their fourth straight series against Arizona.
Milwaukee has won 11 of 16 after taking their second straight over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, when Mike Cameron singled home the winning run in the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory.
J.J. Hardy’s two singles extended his hitting streak to a season-best 14 games, during which he’s 22-for-57 (.386) with four homers, eight doubles and 13 RBIs.
Hardy is batting .346 (27-for-78) with four homers and 11 RBIs in 21 career games against Arizona, including 4-for-13 versus Webb.
The right-hander is facing Milwaukee for the first time this season. Webb is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last four starts versus the Brewers, and has never lost in four outings against them in Arizona.
Wednesday’s loss was the Diamondbacks’ ninth in 12 games and dropped them below .500 for the first time since they were 1-2 on April 3. Arizona also saw its NL West lead slip to 1 1/2 games over the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers.
“We’re going through a tough period where we’re coughing up some games where we don’t normally give them up,” said Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin, whose club stranded 12 baserunners.
The Diamondbacks learned before Wednesday’s game that left fielder Eric Byrnes, who was placed on the disabled list Tuesday, may require surgery on his torn left hamstring. That procedure would sideline him for four to six months, according to the team’s official Web site.