Webb wins 17th, keeps D-backs in first
Arizona ace limits Braves to one run, stops four-game skid
PHOENIX -- Leave it to Brandon Webb to cure all of the D-backs' ailments.As he has done so many times this season, Webb stopped the bleeding for the D-backs on Sunday, only this time it wasn't just on the mound. After Braves starter Mike Hampton intentionally walked No. 8 hitter Chris Burke with Jamie D'Antona at second base in the fourth inning, Webb smacked an 87-mph fastball over the head of center fielder Mark Kotsay for a two-run double, sending the D-backs to a 6-1 win at Chase Field. "There were a couple ducks sitting there on the pond. I told everybody, that's when I step it up," Webb joked. "I got a good piece of wood on it, and I hit it pretty well." Webb also got the job done with his arm, as he picked up his Major League-leading 17th win and lowered his ERA to 2.88 after allowing just one run in six innings. Webb has now won his last four starts and is one win away from his career high, which he set last season. With the victory, the D-backs extended their lead over the Dodgers in the NL West. Los Angeles lost its second consecutive game on Sunday and now trails Arizona by 1 1/2 games. The win meant the D-backs avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the Braves and also ended a four-game losing streak. On Tuesday, Webb got the D-backs' last win before that streak started. "I'm out there trying to do that every time, but a little more emphasis, obviously, whenever we've been struggling a little bit like we have," Webb said. The win also meant that manager Bob Melvin won career game No. 303, putting him in a tie with Bob Brenly for first place in the D-backs history books. It took Melvin 604 games (303-301) to tie Brenly, who needed just 565 games. After the game, Melvin focused more on his ace's win total than his own. "It just means I've been here for a little bit, and really nothing more," Melvin said. "What Bob Brenly did in the short time he was here, certainly there's a lot more to that. "It's a number. 304 would be better." Of Webb, Melvin said, "We'd like to see him have quite a few more when it's all said and done. Thinking about it right now, which I don't do a whole lot, it is quite an accomplishment at this point." Webb started the season by winning his first nine starts. He should stand to make about nine more starts this season and could easily eclipse the 20-win plateau. It would be the first time the D-backs had a 20-game winner since 2002, when Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling had 24 and 23 wins, respectively. Webb, who is a Cy Young frontrunner, said his current record "sounds real good." The D-backs jumped ahead to an early lead by scoring three runs in the first, two of which came on a Mark Reynolds double to left field. Catcher Chris Snyder tacked on a solo home run in the second inning, and Webb's double in the fourth was more than enough for the D-backs. Chad Qualls relieved Webb and tossed two scoreless innings. He was followed by Jon Rauch, who struck out the side in the ninth. "[Webb] went out there and did his thing," Reynolds said. "He got in jams and pitched out of them. It's just what we needed." Melvin said the first inning eased up tensions in the home dugout. After losing four consecutive home games and losing second baseman Orlando Hudson for the season, spirits were not high, but the D-backs broke out of their funk early on. "Early runs and Brandon Webb on the mound usually end up all being good in the end," Melvin said. "Reynolds gets us off with a big double down the line, and combine that with your ace on the mound -- who had an easy first inning -- it just takes the pressure off us that's kind of mounted the last three games."
Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.