Owings bests Giants for fourth victory
Reynolds, Byrnes, Hudson go deep to back right-hander
PHOENIX -- It's starting to get more and more difficult for the Arizona Diamondbacks to hang their hats on the credo that they're a team with no stars."I know we say all the time, 'Hey, we don't have one superstar,'" Diamondbacks left fielder Eric Byrnes said. "But I'll tell you what -- right now, we have a lot of good baseball players. ... There's a lot of future superstars." The team's 4-2 home win Monday against the San Francisco Giants came behind standout performances from a slew of young players whose hot statistical starts are a big reason the Diamondbacks are sporting the best record in baseball and have started 13-3 within the National League West. Micah Owings, the team's 25-year-old pitcher known more for his bat early in his career than his arm, pitched 6 1/3 innings of five-hit baseball to improve to 4-0 on the season, tying teammate Brandon Webb and Florida's Mark Hendrickson for the most wins in the National League. "I thought he had, for five innings, as good of stuff as he's had all year," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. And the praise wasn't just from his skipper. "Micah has been the key to our success," said Byrnes, who hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth inning. "When [Webb] and Dan Haren take the mound, we feel like [we can win] without a doubt. We're starting to get that feeling with Micah." Prior to Monday's outing, D-backs catcher Chris Snyder said he felt the key to Owings' success has been his confidence to go at hitters. "He kind of figured out how it works," Snyder said. "He's going to go out and challenge hitters. He's going to compete; he's going to go right at a guy. He's got a live fastball up in the zone and its kind of deceptive." Owings, who was 8-8 with a 4.30 ERA in 2007 for Arizona, said he doesn't think he's changed his approach much this season, but acknowledged he's pitching with as much confidence as he ever has. "I think what's been huge is my secondary stuff being able to mix more," Owings said. "Just trusting that whatever [sign] he throws down there, I can go with." And Owings, who was 2-for-3 with the bat, was sure to credit the support he's received at the plate from his teammates for his early success. Helping Owings out in the victory was 24-year-old third baseman Mark Reynolds, who hit a solo home run in the second inning, his team-leading sixth of the year. That tied him for the NL lead with 19 RBIs, along with Philadelphia's Pat Burrell, Atlanta's Chipper Jones and New York's David Wright. Heady company. "I didn't really expect it," Reynolds said when told he was tied for the lead, "but I know I have it in me." Justin Upton, only 20, contributed to the hot bats Monday as he was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, and 25-year-old Chris Young made a brilliant throw from center field to start an 8-6-5 putout on a would-be triple by San Francisco's Eugenio Velez in the top of the eighth, the last real threat of the game by the Giants. When Owings was pulled with runners on first and second and one out in the seventh inning, reliever Chad Qualls came in and threw one pitch, inducing a ground-ball double play by Fred Lewis. "That's why we have him there," Melvin said. Asked if Qualls was the best pitcher Melvin's had at inducing a double play, the manager said: "It's a little early yet, but he's about as good as you get."
With the D-backs leading, 3-2, Orlando Hudson hit an opposite-field homer in the seventh for an insurance run.For his part in Monday's win, Byrnes said after his home run, "The 'stache is back," referring to his recent 14-game hit streak that coincided with him growing a mustache. After his 0-for-4 game Sunday, he shaved it within two minutes of the final out. Haren, meanwhile, said he won't shave his beard until he loses. "As long as it's there for what it's for, he can go out there straight Cro-magnon style," Snyder said.
Geoff Grammer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.