Webb shows Cy Young form vs. Nats
Right-hander allows one run over seven strong innings
WASHINGTON -- Despite the frigid temperatures and the cramped visiting clubhouse, it wouldn't be a surprise if the D-backs want to stay in the nation's capitol a bit longer than scheduled.
Arizona won its third straight here Saturday night, a 7-1 victory, and will try for a sweep Sunday afternoon against the reeling Nationals at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
The D-backs have outscored the Nats 18-5 in the series and have yet to trail in a game. It's quite a change for a team that has had miserable luck here against the Nats over the past two seasons. Arizona was on the wrong end of three straight come-from-ahead losses last year at RFK and had been 0-6 here prior to this series.
"Scored some runs last night, scored a few more tonight," manager Bob Melvin said. "But just for whatever reason in this ballpark, until we get that third out, there's no relaxing. We've seen, too many times, this team come back on us in this ballpark."
Past history aside, the D-backs had to feel good about their chances heading into Saturday's game. They had ace Brandon Webb on the hill, and his heavy sinking fastball was enhanced by a wind chill that dropped the temperature into the 20s.
"I'll tell you what, on a night like this, a sinkerballer is not the greatest guy in the world to face," Melvin said. "When he's throwing strikes on a night like this, he can be difficult to deal with. [He can be difficult to face] on any night, but particularly a night like this."
The weather didn't seem to similarly help Nats starter John Patterson, who struggled a bit with his command in the first inning, as the D-backs jumped on him for three runs. Two of the tallies came on a double by Chad Tracy, while the third was a result of a sacrifice fly by Tony Clark.
Webb repaid his teammates for their early run support by keeping off the freezing field as much as possible.
"You've got a guy like Webby out there that works fast and throws strikes, that was huge for us," said right fielder Eric Byrnes, who wore a white hood/mask that covered everything but his eyes when he was in the field. "I can't think of another pitcher I'd rather have out there on a night like tonight. He made it easy for us hitters to come in. I'm not sure if people realize how important that is to an offense to be able to get back into the dugout and stay warm and stay hitting. Webby was typical Webby tonight, and a treat to play behind."
It was a bounce-back start for Webb, who had struggled with his mechanics on Opening Day, which led to an uncharacteristic five earned runs in just five innings.
This time, his delivery in sync, he scattered seven hits over seven innings and allowed just one run -- a solo homer to Austin Kearns in the sixth -- though replays showed that the ball was actually just foul. Left fielder Scott Hairston and Melvin pleaded their cases, and third-base umpire Jerry Meals conferred with his brethren but decided to stick with his initial home run call.
"I get burned on that a couple of times a year it seems like," Melvin said. "But you at least give them credit that they got together and tried to get it right."
By that point the D-backs were already up 6-0, so it didn't effect the game's outcome, but it still meant something to Webb, who has a long history with Kearns.
"I'm going to have to get on Kearns," Webb said with a smile. "I know him pretty well. I played against him in high school all the time. It counts in the book, but it doesn't count between us."
The ninth inning provided some satisfaction for Byrnes, who capped the D-backs' scoring with a homer of his own in the ninth that hugged the left-field line. It was the fourth ball he had hit hard all night, yet prior to the homer, he only had one hit to show for it, as the expansive gaps and cold temperatures held down two of his long flies.
"It was nice to sneak one in there at the end," he said. "I tried left-center and it didn't work out so well. I tried right-center and it didn't work out so well, and then I was able to sneak one down the line."
The D-backs would like to do some sneaking of their own -- out of town with one more win.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.