He liked what he saw. NL West leader San Diego lost. So did Los
Angeles, San Francisco and Colorado.
"Not that I was looking at the scoreboard, which I usually
don't. I didn't notice that our division lost all across the
board," Melvin said sarcastically.
That left the surging Diamondbacks in fourth place, three games
behind the Padres. After staggering to an 8-20 record in June,
Arizona has won five straight and is poised to sweep a series for
the third consecutive weekend. Four games separate the five teams
in the NL West.
Saturday night's victory over the Brewers, who have lost five
straight, was almost too easy. With Brandon Webb (10-3) outdueling
Chris Capuano (10-5) in a showdown of All-Star pitchers, Arizona
first baseman Conor Jackson homered twice as the Diamondbacks
reached .500 (45-45) for the first time since June 21.
"We know what we're capable of," Jackson said. "We knew that
June was a fluke for us. We started off (the season) hot, and I
think we're getting right back on track."
The game was billed as a faceoff of All-Stars who came up
together through the Diamondbacks' farm system. Arizona dealt
Capuano to Milwaukee in 2003 as part of a multiplayer deal for
Richie Sexson, who played 23 games for the Diamondbacks.
Webb and Capuano rank among the NL leaders in wins, winning
percentage, ERA, innings pitched and shutouts.
But the hyped matchup didn't live up to its billing as the
Diamondbacks jumped on Capuano, who hadn't lost in seven starts.
Only Webb looked like an All-Star on this night, trimming his
league-leading ERA to 2.52 by shutting out the Brewers on six hits
in seven innings. Webb, who was lifted after 110 pitches, walked
two and tied a season high with 10 strikeouts.
"My arm felt great," said Webb, who added that he relied more
on breaking balls than his trademark sinker. "To get runs early,
especially off Cappy, who's having a great year, it definitely
makes a starter's job easier."
Since giving up a season-high seven runs to Seattle on June 27,
Webb has yielded two runs in his last three starts, a span of 23
innings. And that doesn't count Webb's inning in the All-Star Game,
when he retired Derek Jeter, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez.
Capuano (10-5) lasted only 3 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of
the season. He allowed eight runs -- five earned -- and 10 hits.
"I never really could get in a rhythm out there," Capuano
said. "I had real trouble locating the ball."
In the second, Capuano gave up three runs but all were unearned.
Third baseman Jeff Cirillo's throwing error allowed one run to
score and set the stage for two-out RBI singles by Damion Easley
and Gonzalez, putting the Brewers in a 4-0 hole.
In the third, Capuano gave up a leadoff home run to Jackson into
the bullpen down the left field line. One inning later, Jackson
homered again, this time into the left field seats with a man
aboard to make it 7-0. It was Jackson's second career multihomer
Johnny Estrada followed with his eighth home run to chase
"To their credit, they were swinging the bats well and hit a
lot of my mistakes," Capuano said.
The loss dropped Milwaukee eight games behind St. Louis in the
NL Central, but manager Ned Yost said his team could only worry
about salvaging the final game of this series.
"You can't bury your head in the sand," he said. "You get
after it again tomorrow."
It was Arizona's first game without shortstop and leadoff
man Craig Counsell, expected to miss three-to-six weeks with a
broken rib. Byrnes replaced Counsell at the top of the order and
started the first and fourth innings with doubles. ... Stephen
Drew, the Diamondbacks' first-round pick in the 2004 draft, made
his major league debut at shortstop, going 0-for-3 with a walk and
a run scored. ... Jackson struck out looking in the first inning,
the third straight at-bat he was called out on strikes. He homered
in his next two at-bats. ... Webb made his 116th start. He's third
on Arizona's career list, behind Randy Johnson (192) and Brian
Anderson (129). ... Milwaukee OF Tony Gwynn Jr., the son of former
San Diego star Tony Gwynn, made his major league debut. He grounded
out as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning. ... Gonzalez' two
doubles gave him 522 for his career, tying Ed Delahanty for 33rd on
baseball's career list. ... Arizona C Johnny Estrada doubled in the
third inning to stretch his career-best hitting streak to 10 games.
... Arizona is 33-29 against the Brewers, including 17-15 at home.