Diamondbacks 6, Pirates 3
PHOENIX (AP)—Casey Fossum adjusted his delivery and changed his luck in the process.
Fossum threw seven strong innings for his first win in over a month and Shea Hillenbrand hit a three-run homer to cap a five-run fifth inning and lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.
Fossum (3-12) scattered seven hits over seven innings to end a six-game losing skid and win for the first time since July 1. He had toyed with shortening his stride by more than a foot during a between-start bullpen session and unveiled the new delivery against the Pirates.
“The first two or three innings, I was getting used to it,” Fossum said. “Then in the fourth, I think with (Jason) Kendall up, I cut it loose.”
Fossum retired eight straight hitters after Kendall’s two-out single in the fourth and 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.
“Even early in the game it didn’t look like he was throwing hard, but he made some pitches well,” Arizona manager Al Pedrique said.
Pedrique said there had been some discussion of moving Fossum to the bullpen, though the Diamondbacks already are short on starting pitching.
“Sometimes I respond well to stuff like that,” said Fossum, who walked two and struck out five in his second-longest outing of the season. “I pitch better when I’m under pressure, and I was under the pressure of losing my job and going back to the bullpen.”
Scott Hairston also homered for the Diamondbacks, who snapped Pittsburgh’s four-game winning streak and won for just the second time in 13 games.
Jason Bay hit his 17th homer for the Pirates, who fell 7 1/2 games behind San Francisco in the NL wild-card race.
“What you want to do is win every series you can,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We came in and took two out of three.”
Pittsburgh took an early 3-0 lead on Kendall’s two-run double in the second and Bay’s 452-foot homer onto the concourse behind the left-center field stands leading off the third.
Quinton McCracken cut the lead to 3-1 on an RBI single in the bottom of the third before Arizona took its first lead of the three-game series in the fifth against John Van Benschoten (0-1).
Hairston led off with his second homer in three games and Juan Brito doubled down the left-field line. After Fossum moved the runner over with a sacrifice bunt, McCracken hit a ground-rule double to left-center to score Brito and tie the game at 3.
Alex Cintron singled and, one out later, Hillenbrand hit his 13th homer into the left-field stands to give the Diamondbacks a 6-3 lead.
“We did some good things tonight and put it all together,” Hillenbrand said.
Greg Aquino pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Van Benschoten, the eighth overall pick in the 2001 draft, allowed six runs and seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts in his major league debut.
“I just left a few pitches up and they took advantage of them,” Van Benschoten said. “I kind of lost my rhythm a little bit and got a little bit rushed, but that happens. It was pretty fun out there. I really didn’t have that many butterflies. I took it as another start.”
Van Benschoten, recalled from Triple-A Nashville early Wednesday, was sent back to the minors after the game. The Pirates play a five-game series in St. Louis beginning Thursday and have not announced a starter for the second game of Friday’s double-header.
“I thought he did all right,” McClendon said. “I liked his stuff. I liked his poise out there. He’s going to be all right. What you have to understand is the toughest inning for every pitcher in baseball, particularly young, inexperienced pitchers is the fifth inning when you’ve got a lead. You want to get through the fifth because that seals the victory for them.”
Fossum’s last win came against San Diego. … After the game, the Diamondbacks optioned infielder Tim Olson to Triple-A Tucson and activated catcher Alan Zinter from the 15-day disabled list. … Bay’s homer tied for the 18th-longest in Bank One Ballpark’s seven-year history. … The Diamondbacks placed catcher Koyie Hill on the 15-day disabled list and purchased the contract of catcher Chris Snyder from Double-A El Paso. … The Pirates designated right-hander Willis Roberts for assignment to make room for Van Benschoten. … Pedrique switched to uniform No. 12 from No. 21 in honor of the late Roberto Clemente’s 70th birthday. Clemente’s No. 21 was placed on the left-field wall for the game.