Webb dominates to win fourth straight
Right-hander tosses eight superb innings, drives in two runs
SAN FRANCISCO -- D-backs bench coach Kirk Gibson loves to kid Brandon Webb about his hitting prowess, or lack thereof.
If the right-hander grounds a ball back to the pitcher, Gibson is likely to say, "They must have scouted you hard to know to play you right there."
A weak grounder hit somewhere usually prompts Gibson to say, "Man, that was a bullet, I can't believe they made that play."
So Wednesday at AT&T Park, when Webb drove in two runs with a single to center in Arizona's 4-1 win, he looked into the dugout as he touched first and mouthed the word "bullet" to Gibson.
"I shouted back at him, 'Rocket!'" Gibson said laughing.
Yes, Webb and the D-backs are having fun these days. And why not? Arizona is the first team in baseball with 11 wins, and Webb is off to another hot start on the mound. Life is good in the D-backs clubhouse.
"This team's rolling pretty well," Webb said.
So is Webb, who has won his first four starts of the year and is now 16-2 in his career during March/April. He still has a ways to go to match his 2006 season, when he started 8-0. In 2005, he got off to a 6-0 beginning.
"I was able to locate pretty well on the fastball," Webb said. "I threw some good offspeed pitches, some good curveballs. They were really aggressive today."
Webb seemed in complete control from the start of this one as he struck out the side in the top of the first. He allowed a single to John Bowker in the second, an infield single to Fred Lewis in fourth and an RBI double to Eugenio Velez that same inning. Other than that, the Giants bats were quiet as Webb nearly went the distance thanks to a couple of quick innings.
"Really, he had the pitch count to where we could have potentially let him go out for the ninth," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "But [closer Brandon] Lyon's got a job to do, too. It was good to get him eight and good to get Lyon a clean ninth."
Lyon retired the Giants in order in the ninth to secure his third save of the year.
When you win the National League Cy Young Award in 2006 and finish second in the voting the following year, outings like Wednesday are not unexpected.
However, when you're a career .104 hitter, a two-run single is a very big deal. Especially given the contest among D-backs starting pitchers to see who can collect the most hits and get down the best percentage of sacrifice bunts.
In his final start before undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous thyroid, D-backs hurler Doug Davis got two hits, so he told Webb, "You've got a month and a half to catch me."
"I've got to be in first place now with the two RBIs," said Webb, who joked he'd been watching fellow pitcher Micah Owings take batting practice in order to glean tips. Owings, who homered four times last year, is not part of the competition because he is far and away the team's best hitting pitcher.
Besides helping Webb in the pitchers' competition, the hit proved to be key in the game. Giants starter Barry Zito labored to start the second as he walked the first three hitters of the inning.
Chris Snyder struck out and Stephen Drew flew out, and Zito looked like he might just wiggle off the hook when Webb stepped to the plate.
"Now it feels like they're going to get back in the dugout with the momentum," Melvin said.
Instead, Webb hit an 86-mph fastball off the end of the bat and into shallow center for a 2-0 D-backs lead.
"I ended up schemping it in there," Webb said.
"It's a word I invented," Webb said.
Hey, if you're 4-0 for a first-place team, you get to do that.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.