Arizona ace extends scoreless streak to 33 innings in 1-0 victory over Nationals

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PHOENIX (AP)—When Brandon Webb takes the mound for Arizona lately, one run for the Diamondbacks is plenty.

The reigning NL Cy Young award winner pitched his second shutout in a row to extend his scoreless inning streak to a club-record 33 Saturday night and lead the Diamondbacks to their 17th victory in 20 games, 1-0 over the Washington Nationals.

Webb’s five-hitter followed a three-hit, 3-0 complete-game victory at Los Angeles last Sunday.

“It was another good day,” he said. “I had a great fastball, great changeup and unbelievable defense behind me.”

The right-hander with a wicked sinker pitched consecutive shutouts for the second time in his career. He did it last season May 20 against Atlanta and May 26 against Cincinnati.

Webb (12-8), whose ERA dipped to 2.77, hasn’t allowed a run since the sixth inning of a 6-2 loss to the Cubs in Chicago on July 20, five starts ago. The reason, manager Bob Melvin said, is “the return of the sinker.”

“The last two games he’s had as good a sinker as we’ve seen since he’s been here,” Melvin said.

Mix in a good curve ball and an effective change-up and, “you’re a guy that’s going to be a Cy Young candidate every year,” Melvin said.

The only other Arizona pitcher to throw consecutive shutouts was Curt Schilling in 2003. Webb broke his own club record for scoreless innings in a row of 30, set a year ago.

“You know he’s going to throw a sinker,” Washington’s Brian Schneider said. “It’s there, and then you blink and it’s gone. That’s his strength. He’s going to throw 85 to 90 percent fastballs and he’s going to mix in the off-speed. When he mixes in that off-speed and he can throw strikes, you’re going to be in trouble that day.”

Nineteen-year-old Justin Upton tripled for the third time in five games to drive in Eric Byrnes for the only run Webb needed.

Webb struck out 10 and walked one in a game that lasted a mere 2 hours, 11 minutes.

With the victory, the Diamondbacks have won seven series in a row and have opened a four-game lead over second-place San Diego in the NL West.

Washington’s John Lannan, in just his fourth major league start, stayed pitch-for-pitch with Webb through seven innings.

“I’m very proud,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “I’ve seen Webb do that over and over, but for this kid just a couple of months removed from ‘A’ ball to match him is just a remarkable performance.”

Arizona didn’t get a hit off the 23-year-old lefty until Byrnes’ one-out single in the fourth inning. Byrnes stole his 31st base of the season with a trademark headfirst slide into second, then scored when Upton hit one to the right-center gap.

Lannan (1-1) gave up just four hits and one run in seven innings. He struck out one and walked two, one intentionally.

The Diamondbacks loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh after Chris Snyder’s bloop double off the glove of a diving Nook Logan in center. Washington intentionally walked Stephen Drew to bring up the pitcher, and for a moment pinch hitter Jeff Cirillo was in the on-deck circle.

But Webb replaced him and first baseman Robert Fick made a diving stab of his line drive.

There was never a doubt that Webb would bat, Melvin said. So why put Cirillo on deck?

“Hey, you’ve got to at least posture,” the manager said.

First baseman Conor Jackson made a diving catch of Felipe Lopez’s sinking line drive down the right field line with one out in the eighth.

The Nationals got one runner to third base off Webb, in the first inning. Lopez singled, was sacrificed to second by Logan, then stole third, but Austin Kearns struck out to end the threat.

Ryan Church doubled off Webb with two outs in the fourth but Ronnie Belliard fanned to end that inning.

The other three Washington hits were singles, two by Logan.

Notes

Of Upton’s nine hits since being called up from Double-A Mobile last week, seven went for extra bases. … Arizona improved to 20-6 against NL East. … The Diamondbacks are 20-8 and have won eight of nine series since the All-Star break. … Logan extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games. … The Nationals were without 1B Dmitri Young for the third game in a row because of a sore hamstring.

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