The Arizona Diamondbacks are feeling better about themselves after taking four of the first six games on their 10-game homestand.
After one start, they're certainly feeling good about their decision to pick up Dontrelle Willis.The often wild former Rookie of the Year didn't allow a run in his Diamondbacks debut, an effort he'll look to build off Thursday afternoon by helping Arizona finish its four-game set against visiting Atlanta with a third victory.Willis (1-0, 0.00) was a major bust in Detroit after being shipped there as part of an eight-player deal in December 2007, going 2-8 with a 6.86 ERA over three injury-plagued seasons.The Diamondbacks (24-36) worked out a deal for the two-time All-Star after the Tigers designated Willis for assignment May 30, and that decision didn't take long to pay off. The left-hander, who's been plagued by control issues in recent years, walked four Saturday against Colorado, but didn't give up a run over six innings in a 4-3 victory in his return to the NL."You talk about a guy that loves to play the game, what a joy to watch," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said. "With all his imperfections and how much he battles himself, to watch a guy go out on the field and compete and lay it all on the line is a good site to see."Willis has plenty of experience against first-place Atlanta (34-26), but none since 2007. He's 6-5 with a 4.92 ERA in 18 career starts against the Braves.It looked like Willis would be hoping to help Arizona earn a split of the four-game set after Atlanta took a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning Wednesday night, but a wild bottom of the eighth changed that. Gerardo Parra hit an inside-the-park home run when outfielders Nate McLouth and Jason Heyward collided, scoring Mark Reynolds and lifting the Diamondbacks to a 2-1 win."If it falls between you, you look like an idiot," said McLouth, who stayed face-down for several minutes. "If we both make the extra effort for it, sometimes unfortunately that's what happens. It was pretty much unavoidable."McLouth, who's 5 for 50 over his last 18 games, left with a severe headache but wasn't tested for a concussion. Heyward stayed in the game, but didn't commit to being in the lineup for Thursday's finale.Arizona will likely need another strong start from Willis with Tommy Hanson (6-3, 3.71) on the mound for Atlanta. The impressive young right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA in three starts since allowing a career-high eight runs over 1 2/3 innings against Cincinnati on May 20.Hanson gave up two runs over six innings Saturday at Los Angeles, striking out six Dodgers in a 9-3 win."The first couple of innings, the ball didn't feel very good coming out of my hand. But once I settled in, everything started to feel a lot better," Hanson said. "I think I'm just a little too pumped up when the game starts and I'm trying to overthrow. (Pitching coach Roger McDowell) said maybe next time I should run a marathon before I go out there and pitch."Hanson gave up five runs over seven innings -- striking out 10 -- in an 11-1 home loss to Arizona on May 15.