ATLANTA (AP)—Doug Davis received more than the usual pats on the back after he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.
“I don’t think I remember shedding a tear, but I did give him a big hug,” Arizona catcher Chris Snyder said. He wasn’t alone. It turned into a group hug in the Diamondbacks’ dugout.
Davis was relaxed and in control in his first start following his return from cancer surgery, giving up only one run in seven innings, and the inspired Diamondbacks hit five homers and rolled to an 11-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.
“When you get five runs it takes a lot of pressure off,” Davis said.
“It felt great. It was kind of hard to control the emotions sometimes because I’m excited to be back and I’m anxious to throw my pitches and I got away on some of the pitches and walked a couple, but overall that was the only downside.”
Manager Bob Melvin said the return of Davis, who had a cancerous thyroid gland removed on April 10, helped the Diamondbacks remember there are more important matters than the team’s three straight losses at Florida this week.
“He took the mound, he had to have some goose bumps,” Melvin said. “But once he got into the flow of the game, it was just another game. He’s an amazing guy.”
“Everybody kind of realized what they are all about today, a little more than baseball.”
The extra fire showed in Arizona’s offensive resurgence.
The Diamondbacks, held to only three runs in the three losses at Florida, broke out of the slump by scoring their most runs of the season. Arizona’s five homers were another high mark for the season. Two of the homers came in a five-run first inning.
Davis (2-1), making his first major league start since April 8, gave up only five hits, with four strikeouts and two walks.
Doctors declared Davis cancer-free this month. He came off the disabled list after going 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in two rehab starts for Triple-A Tucson.
“I tried to throw strikes and get my team back in the dugout as soon as possible,” Davis said, adding “Everybody gave me a hug” after his last inning.
Braves catcher Brian McCann said Atlanta’s players also were moved by the comeback.
“You’re talking about life-threatening stuff,” McCann said. “To overcome it and to get back on the field so early, we all in here tip our hats to him. It was a great performance.”
The Braves, coming off a four-game sweep of the New York Mets, had their five-game winning streak end.
Davis gave up a run-scoring single to Kelly Johnson in the second and gained momentum after pitching out of a third-inning jam. Mark Kotsay and Chipper Jones opened the inning with singles, but Mark Teixeira hit into a double play and Davis struck out Jeff Francoeur to end the threat.
Atlanta’s Jo-Jo Reyes (2-2) gave up six hits and eight runs, seven earned, in five innings. He walked three, including two in the first.
“It was a rough game for him,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who said before the game he has agreed to a one-year contract extension through 2009.
“He just didn’t have control of three of his pitches tonight and got behind and walked guys and just was off on his location. This is his first real bad ball game. … He’ll learn, I like him a lot.”
Reyes has allowed 14 earned runs in nine innings in two career starts against the Diamondbacks.
“It’s a humbling sport,” Reyes said. “You know you’re going to have these days where you’re going to hit rock bottom, but you’ve just got to go out there and work the next four days.” ^Notes: After falling behind 10-1, the Braves lifted Jones in the sixth inning, Teixeira in the seventh and Brian McCann in the eighth. … Braves C Brayan Pena was designated for assignment before the game. … Atlanta RHP John Smoltz will begin a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment Saturday with Double-A Mississippi. … Rookie RHP Max Scherzer, removed from Arizona’s rotation with the return of Davis, pitched a perfect eighth inning in his new role as a set-up reliever.