OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—After pitching his worst game of the season in his last start, Brandon Webb came back with a stellar performance.
Webb (9-3) hadn’t won since May 26 at Cincinnati—a span of six starts. It was his third complete game of the season and sixth of his career. He walked one and struck out seven.
“If I get five, six, seven runs sometimes, I’m supposed to win those ballgames,” Webb said. “I’m trying to be the leader of the pitching staff and to go out there and lose for a month it does wear on you.”
The right-hander, who gave up 15 runs in his previous 18 2-3 innings, was locked up in a pitching duel with Oakland’s Barry Zito (8-5), a Cy Young award winner.
“Zito pitched brilliantly,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “We got some runners in the last inning that made him throw a few more pitches but it was as advertised. Those two pitched beautifully and they both pitched well enough to win.”
Webb was motivated by his matchup with Zito.
“I knew it was probably going to be a pitcher’s duel and it was,” he said. “I knew I was going to have to be pretty much on my game to win.”
Zito lost his second straight start after winning his previous six. He gave up three runs—one earned—and six hits in 8 2-3 innings. He walked five and struck out three.
“I was getting quick outs early and started to nitpick a little bit and walked some guys,” Zito said. “I’m definitely upset about that.”
The Diamondbacks came to Oakland having lost 20 of their previous 23 games, and were 1-11 in interleague play.
“We kind of opened the gates for them,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “A loss like that is tough. Barry was terrific. He got out of some jams.”
With the game tied 1-1, Chad Tracy opened the ninth by reaching base on Dan Johnson’s fielding error and Conor Jackson doubled into the left field corner. Zito got Luis Gonzalez on a grounder to third and walked Johnny Estrada intentionally to load the bases. Zito then walked Shawn Green to force in the go-ahead run. Orlando Hudson added a sacrifice fly.
“It was nice to do to the A’s what a lot of teams have been doing to us lately and that’s to win a series, sweep a series,” Green said. “They’re a good team and the difference is we pitched and caught the ball and we got just enough to win.”
Frank Thomas hit a home run—his 18th of the season—for the second straight day to give the A’s a 1-0 lead in the second. Thomas hit an 0-2 offering from Webb well up into the left field bleachers.
“Other than the 0-2 pitch to Thomas I don’t remember another ball that was hit hard,” Melvin said. “That’s how good his sinker was today.”
Webb got 22 outs on infield grounders or strikeouts. Gonzalez caught four balls in left and Easley caught a line drive at third.
The Diamondbacks took advantage of Zito’s wildness in the fourth to tie the game. Eric Byrnes and Tracy each walked after working the count full to open the inning. One out later, Gonzalez singled on a 3-2 pitch to drive in Byrnes.
Gonzalez went 7-for-12 in the series, driving in four runs.
“We couldn’t get him out,” Macha said. “Today that was pretty good hitting. He just wanted to put the ball in play.”
Other than the two runs, neither pitcher allowed a runner past second base through the first seven innings.
Zito got out of a jam in the eighth after giving up a one-out double to Damion Easley and walking Craig Counsell. After falling behind 2-0 to Brynes, he induced his former teammate to ground into a double play.
Webb didn’t give the A’s much chance, retiring 19 of 21 hitters after allowing Jason Kendall’s single in the third.
The A’s have scored one run or fewer in five of Zito’s starts. Over the past two years Zito has received run support of one run or less 19 times and is 1-14 in those starts.
Thomas took over sole possession of 25th on the all-time home run list with his 466th career blast, snapping a tie with Dave Winfield. … Arizona RHP Juan Cruz will come off the DL to start on Monday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. … A’s 3B Eric Chavez sat out his third straight game with inflammation in his forearms. … The A’s finished interleague play with an 8-10 mark while the Diamondbacks went 4-11. … A’s OF Mark Kotsay went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 25 at bats.