PITTSBURGH (AP)—Jason Bay is all but promising the Pittsburgh Pirates have bottomed out in a season that couldn’t have gone much worse. Brandon Webb must be wondering how much better it can get than this.
Webb withstood a shaky start to win his sixth in a row, Chad Tracy had four hits and Shawn Green drove in three runs to give the Arizona Diamondbacks a 7-4 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday night.
Webb gave up three runs and 10 hits despite constantly being in trouble over six innings, but worked out of enough jams to improve to 6-0 in eight starts. He has the most victories of any unbeaten pitcher in the majors, never allowing more than three runs in any start during his streak.
“Tonight was the most I’d say he’s gotten hit all year, and he still only gave up three runs,” Green said. “He’s our guy and we’re trying to ride him every time he pitches.”
Now come the hard part for the right-handed Webb, who also was 6-0 last season before finishing 14-12. He has a 15-7 record in April and May during his career, but is 21-30 in other months.
“It definitely feels good to win your first six decisions—and, hopefully, keep it rolling,” Webb said.
So far, the Pirates have been bad no matter the day or month—they fell to 10-25, 3-6 in May, while settling for a two-run first against Webb, then leaving the bases loaded and failing to score in what was shaping up to be a big third inning.
“But we’re going to be better than we have been,” said Bay, arguably the Pirates’ most talented player and one who seems to be running out of patience with the losing. “We haven’t been that good and we have to be better.”
The Pirates did tie it at 3 in the sixth on the first of Jose Castillo’s two RBI doubles. But Arizona retook the lead—and made certain Webb got the decision—when Green doubled and scored on Johnny Estrada’s run-scoring single in the seventh against Damaso Marte (0-2).
The Diamondbacks pushed the lead to three runs in the eighth against Matt Capps on Green’s two-run single, which came after Tracy doubled for his fourth hit. Arizona had 16 hits, but only three for extra bases.
“We found some holes,” Tracy said. “I wouldn’t say we hit it as hard as we’d like to, but they had some eyes on them and that’s the way the ball rolls. If you find some holes, it can change the whole ballgame.”
Arizona, winning its eighth in 10 games, took a 2-0 lead in the first when Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm allowed five consecutive runners to reach base. Jackson had a run-scoring single ahead of Green’s sacrifice fly.
Webb had not allowed more than two runs in any of his three most recent starts, but the Pirates quickly tied it in their half of the first on consecutive singles by Jose Bautista, Nate McLouth and Freddy Sanchez, with Sanchez driving in a run, ahead of Bay’s double-play grounder.
Bay, an NL All-Star last year whose average is down to .252, also left runners on base in what became a pivotal third inning. After Bautista, McLouth and Sanchez again singled in succession, Bay struck out and Jeromy Burnitz— whose average has dipped to .185—flew out to center.
“It wasn’t my best game,” Bay said.
Nor was it for Burnitz, who failed to run out a seemingly routine ground ball to second in the eighth inning. Orlando Hudson mishandled the ball but, because Burnitz wasn’t very far down the line, recovered in time to throw him out.
Asked about Burnitz’s lack of hustle, manager Jim Tracy said, “That wasn’t why we lost the game.”
Webb has a 2.20 ERA during his winning streak. He is 2-0 in three career starts against Pittsburgh. … Green had three more hits, making him 27-of-58 (.466) during his last 15 games. … A night after the Pirates reached .500 at home for the first time this season, they lost there for the eighth time in 15 games. … Maholm gave up 10 hits and three runs in 5 2-3 innings after yielding two runs in 13 innings in his previous two starts. … Arizona had dropped two in a row after winning seven in succession.