PHILADELPHIA -- All it took for Doug Davis to break his losing slump was to face the National League leader in runs scored.Wait, what? Surely this wasn't the same guy. Davis had five losses after five road starts prior to Monday's game. His last four decisions before Monday were losses. Davis allowed a combined 10 runs while not making it out of the fifth inning in either of his May road losses at Pittsburgh and at Houston. But he didn't seem too troubled Monday, easing through the Phillies lineup with the lone hiccup credited to 2006 NL MVP Ryan Howard. As a result, the D-backs left the first of their three-game series with the Phillies in attractive shape after a 5-4 win. "They do have a lot of pop," Davis said of the Phillies lineup. "But I felt like I pitched them well." Davis squirmed on the bench while his winning decision came under fire during a Phillies ninth-inning rally. Rod Barajas' bid at a game-ending home run was caught at the warning track and Davis was able to enjoy his first win since April 27. "I was sweating it," he said. "Every win is satisfying, whether it's against Philly or anywhere else." The win also marked his longest outing since Sept. 11. Maybe Davis steps up his game for days that play at his patriotic heartstrings, or maybe he's just doing his part for an Arizona rotation that has produced quality starts in its last three games and claims two complete games in the past week. The only starting pitcher not to contribute to the D-backs' solid stretch on the mound had been Davis. But he put a lot of that behind him Monday. He credited his off-speed pitches for keeping the Phillies offense flailing much of the night. "When I went around the first nine [batters], I threw the curveball and I saw some bad swings on them," Davis said. "Second, third time around I didn't want to show them curveball the whole time. I'd get them off the curveball and throw a fastball."
Howard hit a seventh-inning homer to make the score 3-1. Davis didn't appear fazed, retiring the next three batters and then three straight in the eighth to leave with the same cushion.His numbers Monday were much more healthy when compared to some of his early starts: 4 2/3 innings, 10 hits, seven runs during a May 18 loss to the Pirates; 4 1/3 innings, six hits and three runs during a 5-2 loss at Houston on May 13. Davis' start Monday added to the building momentum that has characterized the D-backs pitching in recent games. The win was Davis' third in 11 starts, but it came at a good time. The D-backs have won their last five and pulled even with the Dodgers and Padres for the NL-West lead. "We've been rolling," said first baseman Conor Jackson. "Our young guys have been hitting and our pitching has been phenomenal." Arizona wasted little time giving Davis the lead. Eric Byrnes led off with a single in the first and Jackson drove him home with a towering blast into the seats beyond left field. Howard flied out to the warning track his second at-bat. He got another shot in the seventh inning and made the most of it -- his third home run in two games. Davis retired the next three Phillies to get out of the inning. Recent sensation Mark Reynolds continued his torrid start, doubling in the fourth inning and scoring on a sac fly. The D-backs added two runs in the top of the ninth to seemingly ice it. But Davis was pinch-hit for during that two-run ninth, and didn't come out to finish. Instead, Jose Valverde came in and got back-to-back strikeouts following a walk and base hit before serving up a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs. "We have a guy that's leading the National League in saves," said D-backs manager Bob Melvin. "We get in that situation, [Davis] is up over 100 pitches already, send him back out there, potentially a couple guys get on, you're in a position to take a loss. You got a two-run lead, you turn it over to the guy that's leading the league in saves and you give him the ball." Brandon Lyon came in to protect the one-run lead and gave up a single to Pat Burrell. Carlos Ruiz then hit a routine grounder to Jackson, who allowed the ball to escape under his legs and into right field. First and third, two out. "A Buckner flashback," Jackson said with a smile, after Barajas' fly ball removed him from the hook. "I wasn't ready for it. But we pulled it out, that's all that matters." Davis would likely agree.
Stephen Fastenau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.