Diamondbacks 1, Dodgers 0
PHOENIX (AP)—All the attention Elmer Dessens pays to batting practice paid off.
The Arizona right-hander, praised by manager Bob Brenly for his devotion in the batting cage, drove in the only run he needed with his first triple and pitched seven shutout innings to lead the Diamondbacks to a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
“Every day we have batting practice,” said Dessens, 7-for-32 (.219) at the plate this year. “I try to do everything right, like in a game situation.”
It was Arizona’s second straight narrow decision over the Dodgers, coming hours after a 2-1 victory in 15 innings Friday night. The bullpen pitched seven perfect innings in that game, and three relievers got through the last three innings in this one.
“When things (offensive scuffling) like that are going on, your pitchers have to step up and vice versa,” outfielder Luis Gonzalez said. “When they’re struggling, the offense has to pick it up. So these guys have come up big for us the last two nights.”
Dessens (6-7), the only member of the Diamondbacks opening day rotation to make every start this year, allowed four hits and one intentional walk while striking out six.
Dessens retired 16 consecutive batters between singles by Cesar Izturis in the first inning and Dave Roberts in the sixth. Roberts reached second on a balk, but Dessens struck out Izturis, the next batter, for the third out.
In the seventh, he pitched out of a bases-loaded jam after giving up singles to Shawn Green and Jeromy Burnitz. Green reached third and Burnitz second on Burnitz’s broken-bat blooper to center, and Dessens walked Adrian Beltre before striking out David Ross.
Los Angeles threatened in the eighth against Oropesa, who walked pinch-hitter Rickey Henderson on four pitches and gave up a single to Izturis in the first three batters.
But Green struck out looking for the second out. Valverde came on to pitch to Paul Lo Duca and walked him, but got Burnitz to pop out.
Third baseman Craig Counsell ended the threat with the play of the game, catching Burnitz’s popup just as he ran into the railing of the grandstand in short right field.
“You know the situation, and obviously it’s a big point in the game,” Counsell said. “But you’re just trying to catch it, and was I right at the edge of where I could.”
The Dodgers’ Andy Ashby (2-8) had to deal with baserunners in five of the first six innings. Double plays helped him escape damage in the second and fourth, but the Diamondbacks scored in the fifth thanks to their battery.
Rod Barajas, starting at catcher after playing the last six innings late Friday, singled with two outs.
Roberts, activated before the game after 23 days on the disabled list to start in center field, was playing Dessens to hit the ball to right. Instead, the right-hander drove it into the left-center gap and Roberts failed in his attempt to make a sliding stop.
“When an outfielder’s playing cheap, he can hit a ball over their heads like he did today,” Brenly said. “I don’t know what was the bigger surprise— Elmer hitting a triple or Rod scoring from first on the triple, but it worked out pretty well.”
Ashby called the game frustrating.
“We’ll have to come out tomorrow and see what we have to do change it around,” Ashby said. “We’re going to score runs. It’s just that we came up short today.”
Alex Cintron hit into a 1-6-4-3 double play which Izturis started at shortstop by grabbing a grounder that grazed Ashby’s left leg and tossing to Alex Cora at second. With Hillenbrand on third, Ashby struck out David Dellucci for the third out.
“That performance resembled characteristics of what made him a serious Cy Young Award candidate (in 1998),” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said about Ashby. “One ground ball after another, some of the finest defensive plays in themiddle of the infield that you would ever want to take a look at.”
The teams have combined to score 13 runs in their last five meetings. … Cintron’s 11-game hitting streak was snapped, but Hillenbrand extended his to 11 games and Gonzalez singled in the sixth to run his to 10 games. … The walk was Henderson’s record 2,181st. … The last triple by an Arizona pitcherwas Brian Anderson’s on May 5, 2002, against Montreal.