Cruz pitched seven shutout innings in the longest outing of his career and the Arizona Diamondbacks broke a 24-inning scoreless streak with two unearned runs in the eighth for a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.
Cruz (3-3), who started the season in the bullpen, hasn't allowed a run in his last two starts. In all, he's put together 14 straight scoreless innings.
"I don't worry about [the Diamondbacks] scoring runs," Cruz said. "I just keep making my pitches."
He gave up five hits and escaped his only big jam in the sixth when Jeff Francoeur flied out to center with the bases loaded, prompting Cruz to pound his chest defiantly as he walked off the mound.
The Diamondbacks needed a strong showing on the mound. They failed to score in the final 17 innings of a series in New York, including a 1-0, 13-inning loss on Wednesday. Arizona didn't have much success against Ramirez, either, managing three hits off the left-hander in seven-plus innings.
Pinch-hitter Jeff DaVanon started the eighth with a walk and Andy Green followed with the expected sacrifice bunt. But Ramirez let the ball slip out of his glove and then rushed an underhanded toss that sailed over the head of second baseman Marcus Giles, who was covering first.
The Atlanta bullpen, a problem spot all year, almost got out of it. McBride struck out Chad Tracy and was replaced by Chad Paronto, who retired Conor Jackson on a soft liner up the middle that was backhanded by Giles. Remlinger, the fourth Atlanta pitcher of the inning, got ahead 1-2 on Shawn Green, but the Diamondbacks
outfielder fought off one pitch before driving an opposite-field single to left-center.
"It had been a while since we scored any runs," Green said. "It was a fastball, up. I was just trying to see the ball. [Remlinger] is a crafty veteran. I was not trying to outguess him."
Cruz pitched for the Braves in 2004, appearing in 50 games as a reliever. But his former teammates hardly recognized the guy who moved into Arizona's rotation in late April and has been especially strong in his last three starts, two against Atlanta. The right-hander threw six strong innings in a 2-1 loss to the Braves on May 21.
This time, that score went in his favor.
"He's mixing it up a lot more now that he's in the rotation," said Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche, who was 0-for-2 against Cruz. "You have to. When you see a guy three times in a game, you can't get away with just fastballs. You've got to hand it to him. He pitched great."
So did Ramirez (1-1), but his defensive lapse ended up deciding the game.
"I was thinking second all the way, but I bobbled it," he said. "When I picked my head up, I didn't realize how far I was from first base. I knew [Andy Green] was the leadoff hitter and
could run a little bit, so that came into play. But I didn't panic. I just misjudged how far I was from first base."
In the ninth, the Diamondbacks passed on struggling closer Jose Valverde, who has 14 saves but a 5.85 ERA. He's blown two straight save chances and has been scored on in his last five appearances.
Jorge Julio, acquired from the Mets last week, gave up a leadoff homer to Andruw Jones before retiring the next three hitters -- LaRoche, Francoeur and Ryan Langerhans -- for his first save with Arizona and second overall.
"We had our big hitters coming up," Jones said. "But he settled down and got three outs."
Ramirez kept it scoreless in the seventh with the help of a brilliant defensive play by Giles. The second baseman fell back to his left to field a grounder that deflected off Ramirez's glove and made a backhanded flip to Edgar Renteria, whose strong throw to first got slow-running catcher Chris Snyder by a step to complete an inning-ending double play.
Snyder slammed his helmet to the ground in disgust.
"The mood was somber in the dugout," Byrnes said. "When you go that long without scoring, it's not good."
Arizona has won three of four in its season series with the Braves. ... Green was 1-for-8 in his career against Remlinger until getting the game-winning hit. ... Cruz went 6 2/3 innings twice in his career, his longest stints until Thursday.