PHOENIX (AP)—Micah Owings has made headlines with his bat.
He can pitch too.
“He’s becoming a more complete pitcher, spinning the ball pretty aggressively,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “We were able to extend some counts and work his pitch count up, but he was out there battling.”
The only downside for Owings: he went 0-for-3 to drop his batting average 47 points, to .370. He was called out on a grounder to third base despite appearing to beat the throw in the sixth.
“No comment,” Owings said.
Brandon Lyon earned his 10th straight save and Orlando Hudson hit a two-run double for the Diamondbacks, who have won seven of eight games against Colorado this season after being swept by the Rockies in the NL championship series last fall.
The Diamondbacks improved to a major league-best 25-15—including 19-5 against the feeble NL West—and dropped the Rockies 10 games back in the division race.
“We’ve got to see them about a hundred more times, so it’s going to come down to the wire,” Hudson said.
Bad news for the Rockies: they’ll face 8-0 Brandon Webb as they try to avoid a three-game sweep on Thursday night.
“This season is a long season, and that’s one thing to put in perspective and realize you can’t play three months of baseball in one at-bat, one pitch or one play,” Colorado right fielder Brad Hawpe said. “You’re going to have times when things are going easy and you’re going to have times when they are tough. So with that being said, things are going tough.”
Hawpe had a chance to tie the game in the ninth after Lyon gave up two-out singles to Todd Helton and Garrett Atkins. But Lyon retired Hawpe on a pop to third base to earn his 11th save in 13 chances.
Lyon had blown a save in a 5-2 victory at Colorado on April 6, and that may have been going through the Diamondbacks’ minds as the Rockies mounted their late rally.
“It was a no doubter,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said with a smile. “It was in the bag. Felt good about it. Helton, and (Matt) Holliday, and Hawpe and those guys, they’ve never hurt us before. Lyon made big pitches, though.”
Arizona’s latest victory came while Owings (5-1) limited the Rockies to five hits in six innings, with two walks and five strikeouts. Melvin lifted him after 100 pitches.
“He was spent,” Melvin said. “He was losing his command a little bit there right at the end with 100 pitches. But typical Micah—he has to make a pitch, he does.”
Owings had a 4-0 lead when he left but had to sweat out the victory when the normally reliable Arizona bullpen faltered.
Colorado pulled to within 4-3 in the eighth on a two-run pinch single by Scott Podsednik off Tony Pena. One of the runs was charged to Doug Slaten, who gave up a leadoff single to Helton to start the rally.
Owings won his first four starts but had gone winless in his last three, allowing 14 earned runs in 17 2-3 innings.
It looked as if the Rockies would extend Owings’ slump on an 84-degree evening in the desert. He walked leadoff man Spilborghs, gave up a double to Matt Holliday and walked Helton to load the bases with one out.
“Early on, I definitely didn’t feel good,” Owings said. “I wasn’t really in sync. I just tried to fight through it.”
But Owings struck out Atkins and retired Hawpe on a grounder to second to end the threat.
Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa (1-2), a former Diamondbacks farmhand, allowed one hit over the first three innings before running into trouble in the fourth. Singles by Stephen Drew, Hudson and Conor Jackson gave Arizona a 1-0 lead.
The Diamondbacks made it 4-0 on Hudson’s two-run double in the fifth—an inning that ended with Byrnes grounding to short to leave the bases loaded. Byrnes went 0-for-4 to drop his average to .214.
Arizona LHP Randy Johnson iced his pitching hand on Wednesday, one day after trying to catch a bouncer barehanded. He said he expects to make his scheduled start Sunday. “It’s the smart pitchers that pull their hand back,” Johnson said. “It’s the dumb ones that leave it out there.” … … Atkins has hit in 12 straight games. … De La Rosa was signed by the Diamondbacks on March 20, 1998, 11 days before their first game. … Colorado RHP Aaron Cook will go after his seventh straight victory in the series finale Thursday night. Cook (6-1) has a 1.90 ERA during his six-game win streak, which includes a victory over Arizona on April 13.