Diamondbacks 7, Nationals 1

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WASHINGTON (AP)—After a rough opening day, Brandon Webb pitched a lot more like a Cy Young Award winner in his second start of 2007.

Here’s how effective the sinkerballer was Saturday night in leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 7-1 victory over the Washington Nationals: The only run Webb allowed came on a homer that might really have been a foul ball.

“I felt a lot better,” Webb said. “I had a great bullpen before the game. I felt like I was going to be on.”

He scattered seven hits over seven innings, and Arizona did what every opponent of Washington’s has this season—take an early lead. Washington fell to 1-5 in becoming the only major league club since 1900 to trail by at least 4-0 in each of its first six games. No team had fallen behind that way for more than four games to open a season.

“We’ve just got to keep on working,” Washington manager Manny Acta said. “Can’t push the panic button in the sixth game.”

Wearing short sleeves even though the temperature at first pitch was 41, Webb (1-0) struck out eight and lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 4.50—he gave up five earned runs in five innings Monday at Colorado.

John Patterson (0-2), the closest thing Washington has to an established starter, labored through a 31-pitch first inning in which he allowed three runs and two hits with two walks. The big hit was Chad Tracy’s two-run double on a fastball up and away.

“Just not a very good pitch,” Patterson said.

Unlike Webb, Patterson said he was bothered by the conditions, which never allowed him to get loose on the mound.

“It was cold,” Patterson said. “It was really cold.”

Eric Byrnes—wearing a stocking cap that covered everything but his eyes when he was in right field—homered for the Diamondbacks off closer Chad Cordero in the ninth.

Patterson’s problem was throwing strikes. Over the first two innings, he faced 11 batters and began nine with a ball. He finished with 88 pitches—half were balls.

Still, he kept Arizona scoreless in innings 2-5, before reliever Jesus Colome gave up three in the sixth, including RBI doubles by Byrnes and Chris Young.

So that made it 6-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth, and Webb quickly got two outs. That’s when Austin Kearns hit a deep fly to left that curled as it reached the foul pole and appeared to bounce off the dark green wall in foul territory.

Third base umpire Jerry Meals immediately ruled it a homer. Arizona manager Bob Melvin went out to discuss the call, while left fielder Scott Hairston trotted toward the infield to offer his view. Meals and the three other umpires huddled for a few minutes before sticking with the call, which gave Kearns his first RBI this season.

“I get burned on that play a couple of times a year, it seems like,” Melvin said.

Webb took it in stride, more upset that he might hear about it from Kearns— they’ve known each other since being opponents in high school

Ryan Church then doubled—all six of his hits have been for extra bases— but Webb struck out Ronnie Belliard to end the inning. The Nationals got a runner to second again in the seventh, thanks to second baseman Orlando Hudson’s error, but Webb got Kory Casto to ground into a double play.

That made Washington 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position against Webb, and 0-for-24 over the past three games.

Webb buckled down when he had to—and got a bit of help from the Nationals, too. He gave up two singles in the second inning, but Dmitri Young was thrown out trying to stretch his leadoff hit into a double. In the third, two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out for Young, hitting cleanup for the first time with Washington.

“We had the right guy up,” Acta said.

But Webb got Young to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.

“He’s got such a good sinker that you can’t elevate the ball against him,” Washington’s Kory Casto said. “So you’ve just got to single him to death, and we couldn’t get that last hit.”


Arizona 1B Tony Clark made his first start and collected three hits. … Washington has been outscored 42-17.

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