MILWAUKEE (AP)—Dan Haren no longer relies on the dominating fastball he once had. It’s the pitches that he’s picked up along the way that impress former manager Ken Macha.
“I’m a completely different pitcher than back then, I’ve lost a few miles per hour over the year and I’ve developed other pitches,” said Haren, who was in Macha’s rotation in 2005-06 in Oakland. “I used to be able to blow the ball by guys, but I don’t have it in the tank anymore.”
Macha said Haren’s ability to use offspeed pitches that has elevated his game.
“He threw a lot more fastballs for me when he pitched and he didn’t have the cut fastball. So that’s something that he’s picked up,” Macha said. “If you go out there and throw 92, 92, 92, somebody’s going to hit it. But when you’ve got these other pitches you throw for strikes, that 92 looks like 102. It’s right by you.”
With Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb sidelined by a shoulder strain, Haren (3-3) has picked up the slack and Arizona is beginning to hit, winning five of the last seven.
“We’ve always said we have two aces,” said Upton, who is on a nine-game hitting streak. “With Webbie out, he’s really shouldered the load of the ace role. We’re confident when he goes out there. When he does go out and throw like he has the last two times, he gives us a great opportunity to win.”
Lucky for the Diamondbacks, they don’t need to score much with Haren on the mound. Haren scattered one run off four hits over eight innings and has given up three runs over his last three starts to lower his ERA to 1.47. Chad Qualls pitched around a one-out double in the ninth for his sixth save.
Brewers starter Braden Looper has been strong himself since signing a free-agent deal to join Milwaukee in the offseason, but one inning cost him against Haren.
Looper (2-1) retired the first 12 batters he faced, but gave up three straight hits to start the fifth inning to the Diamondbacks, who came in batting .231 as a team, worst in the majors.
“Three runs feel like five runs when you have a guy like Haren on the mound. It has been timely the last few nights, definitely,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said.
Upton, hitting .387 over his last nine games with three homers and 10 RBIs, homered to deep left field to give Arizona a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning, Looper’s last. The drive landed just left of Bernie Brewers’ landing terrace, an estimated 450 feet.
“I hit that ball pretty well,” Upton said. “I got a pitch out over the plate that I was able to get the barrel on.”
That was plenty for Haren, who hasn’t given up more than two runs in any of his six starts and allowed only two baserunners to reach scoring position. He could easily be 6-0 this season, but received just one run in support over his first three outings.
“It’s nice getting runs,” said Haren, who reached at least 10 strikeouts for the sixth time in his career and second this season. “It just enables me to be even a little more aggressive.”
The Brewers only got two baserunners in scoring position against Haren. Jason Kendall was stranded at third in the third inning and Rickie Weeks scored on a two-out RBI single by Fielder in the sixth. … The Brewers failed to hit a homer for the third straight game. … The sellout crowd gave third base umpire CB Bucknor a mock cheer in the fifth inning for calling Felipe Lopez’s fly ball down the left-field line foul. The night prior, third base umpire Brian Gorman ruled that Tony Clark’s drive barely nicked the line and ended up being a two-run double in Arizona’s 5-2 win. … Brewers LF Ryan Braun missed the game with a stiff back that began acting up in Friday’s game. … Brewers SS J.J. Hardy had a second day off while mired in a 1-for-20 skid.