Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 1
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Judging by the way Arizona manager Bob Melvin described Brandon Webb’s sinker, each baseball plate umpire Gary Cederstrom gave him might as well have had three holes drilled into it.
“You feel like you’re hitting a bowling ball when he’s on,” Melvin said Monday night after Webb allowed one run over seven innings for the Diamondbacks and recorded 14 of his 21 outs on grounders in a 9-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“You could see early on that he had that shot-put sinker going. It’s heavy — very heavy. Not only does it have great movement, it’s tough to get it in the air,” Melvin said. “I’ll tell you, when he’s throwing it in the bottom of the zone, there’s very little you can do with it—lefty or righty—even though you know it’s coming.”
Chris Young hit a pair of solo homers, helping stake Webb to a 7-0 lead. Last year’s NL Cy Young winner did the rest, limiting the Dodgers to four hits while striking out two and walking three.
“The sinker was working pretty well,” said Webb, who led all major league pitchers in ground-ball out ratio in each of the previous two seasons. “I was pounding the strike zone with it, getting some early swings, getting ahead in the count and getting a lot of ground balls, so I pretty much stuck with that and didn’t go to the off-speed stuff as much as I had been.”
Webb has allowed only four earned runs in 23 innings over his last three starts.
“I’m feeling better than I did in my first few outings, and I feel like I’m where I need to be right now,” he said following the Diamondbacks’ sixth straight victory. “With the guys we have in the rotation and in the bullpen, the pressure’s totally off me. So if I have a bad day, I know one of those guys will come in and pick me up.”
Webb allowed only one runner as far as third base through the first six innings. In the seventh, the right-hander gave up an RBI single to Andre Ethier and walked pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. But he came back to retire pinch-hitter Wilson Valdez on a weak dribbler to the right of the mound.
“I kind of understand now when I hear players on the other team talk about his heavy sinker and how much movement his ball has,” former Diamondbacks teammate Luis Gonzalez said. “He got ahead in the count, threw strikes and got a quick run early. When that happens he gets a lot more confidence and he’s a lot more aggressive going after guys. So you see a lot of guys taking bad swings when they have two strikes.”
Randy Wolf (3-3) was charged with six runs, 10 hits and four walks over 5 2-3 innings in his 200th big league game. The left-hander was in 4-1 with a 3.50 ERA in his eight previous starts against Arizona.
Young drove Wolf’s second pitch of the game to right-center for his third homer. The Diamondbacks left five runners in scoring position over the next three innings before scoring three runs in the fifth.
Eric Byrnes ended a 1-for-18 drought with an RBI double into the left field corner that allowed Orlando Hudson to score easily from first. Chris Snyder singled home another run after Wolf walked .205-hitting Carlos Quentin with two outs. Quentin scored when center fielder Juan Pierre made a diving attempt on Webb’s short flyball and it popped out of his glove for an RBI single.
“I didn’t pitch well,” Wolf said. “I’ve just got to keep on grinding and getting better.”
Young tacked on another run, leading off the seventh with a first-pitch homer against Seanez. The right-hander was trying to eat up a few innings for a tired Dodger bullpen that allowed only one hit through the final 10 2-3 innings of Sunday’s 17-inning, 5-4 victory at San Diego.
Brett Tomko, who was scheduled to throw on the side Monday between starts, relieved in the eighth. He gave up Young’s RBI single and a bases-loaded walk to Hudson.
Young’s multi-homer game was the first of his career. He was the first Diamondbacks player to lead off the first inning with a home run since July 23 at Phoenix, when Jeff DaVanon connected on the first pitch from Colorado’s Byung-Hyun Kim. … Hudson was 3-for-5 with a walk, and has reached base in all 27 games. He is batting .385 lifetime against Dodgers pitching (30-for-78). … C Russell Martin, one of four Dodgers who played all 17 innings in Sunday (including Garciaparra, Pierre and Jeff Kent), was the only one who had the night off. Mike Lieberthal got his third start behind the plate.