SAN DIEGO - Brandon McCarthy tried his out his best Bronson Arroyo imitation on Saturday.
And, it worked.
Where Arroyo was dominate in his win over the San Diego Padres Friday night, McCarthy picked up the baton. Shutting down San Diego during his seven innings of work, McCarthy helped the Diamondbacks extend their winning streak to three with a 4-3 victory over the Padres before 35,213 in Petco Park.
With the victory, the Diamondbacks clinched their second series win of the season and improved their road record above .500 to 8-7. The Diamondbacks team scoreless streak ended at 24 innings and that represented the second longest in team history.
The streak dates back to last Wednesday’s game. That’s when the Rockies scored in the third inning and the staff did not allowed a run until the ninth inning Saturday That‘s when Padres’ catcher Yasmani Grandal doubled in Seth Smith to break the shutout streak.
Padres’ second baseman Jedd Gyorko followed with a two-run home run but Addison Reed got Xaiver Nady to fly to right with the tying and winning runs on to end the game.
For his part, McCarthy allowed only four base runners in the seven innings he worked. In the third, Cameron Maybin lead off the inning with a walk and opposing pitcher Ian Kennedy singled to right. Later, Smith dropped a double inside the left field line with one out in the fourth. Smith also doubled to the center field fence to lead-off the seventh but McCarthy then retired the side in order.
“I felt good and able to execute pitches,” McCarthy said. “Early in the game, I was a little spotty but I focused on throwing to a zone.”
Despite going the seven innings, McCarthy indicated he was not quite ready to hit the showers.
“I felt I had a little more in the tank,” he said. “Then again, I’m not going to push myself. Right now, I feel as good as have the past few years and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Overall, McCarthy was nearly perfect.
In gaining his first win of the season, McCarthy continues to put up respectable numbers. Save a career-high 12 strikeouts last Sunday against the Phillies, the 31 year-old right-hander lowered his season ERA with each outing. Entering Saturday’s game against San Diego, McCarthy’s ERA was 5.54 and after shutting down the Padres, he now stands at 4.67. In total, McCarthy threw 88 pitches and represented his second lowest total of the season. McCarthy tossed 71 pitches on April 5 in a 9-4 defeat to the Rockies.
“(McCarthy) was more aggressive with his fast ball,” said catcher Miguel Montero. “Now, he’s more competitive and his body language is better than earlier in the season. That’s building up his confidence.”
In the process, the Diamondbacks beat up on an old friend.
Beating Kennedy for first time, the D-backs jumped on their former teammate for two in the second and another in the third. Kennedy lasted only five innings and gave up a season-high 11 hits.
In his five innings of work, Kennedy did not retire the Diamondbacks in order during any one inning, and finished with 102 pitches for the five innings. This tied Kennedy for his shortest outing of the season and he also threw five innings on April 2 in a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers.
Reaching Kennedy for two runs in the second, Montero led off the inning with a 419 foot home run over the right center field fence. That proceeded a pair of doubles from Chris Owings and Alfredo Marte to push Arizona into a quick 2-0 lead.
In his career, Kennedy has been vulnerable to the home run. In the split 2013 season between the Diamondbacks and San Diego, Kennedy yielded 27 bombs and tied with the Red Sox Ryan Dempster for sixth in the majors. That was behind leader R. A. Dickey of the Blue Jays, who gave up 35 home runs.
In 2012, Kennedy finished in a tie for ninth with Mike Leake of the Reds when he gave up 28 home runs. That was behind major leaguer-leader Ervin Santana of the Royals (39).
In 2011, the year Kennedy went 21-4 for the D-backs and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award balloting among National League pitchers, he surrendered 20 and that was in the middle behind Bronson Arroyo (46).
Kennedy’s vulnerability nearly continued in the fifth.
That’s when Paul Goldschmidt’s towering fly to center appeared headed over the fence but Cameron Maybin timed his leap perfectly and brought the ball back over the fence. Montero followed with a single to center and Aaron Hill dropped a single into shallow center. Kennedy then hung a curve to Chris Owings, who singled to center to score Montero. Kennedy came back to strike out both Marte and Ender Inciarte to end the frame.
“It was a change-up,” said Montero of the home run. “Actually, I had trouble picking it up and managed to get it out. Lucky, I guess.”
Montero discounted the fact he used to catch Kennedy and had a strong command of his pitches.
“There was a game here last year where (Kennedy) struck me out twice,” Montero added. “So, no, I didn’t see any advantage here.”
The 14 hits amassed by the Diamondbacks is short of the season-high 16 on March 31 against the Giants.
All starters chipped in with at least one hit except Inciarte and McCarthy picked up his first hit of the season. Owings and Montero had three each, Hill was on base three times with two walks a single while Marte added a double and a single in his first start of the season.
Diamondbacks’ manager Kirk Gibson rested outfielder A. J. Pollock for another day.
Suffering from a groin injury, Gibson said Pollock is about 80 to 85 percent but decided to rest the 26 year-old native of Hebron, Conn. for at least Saturday’s game with the Padres.
Two weeks ago, Pollock suffered neck injury in a series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. At the time, he said the injury was not serious but developed a groin issue within the last week.
“I spoke with him after (Friday’s 2-0 win over San Diego) and thought he could go at that time,” Gibson said before Saturday’s game. “Right now, he’s not where we want him to be. I want him to play center field and there’s running and movement associated with that position.”
In Pollock’s place, Gibson started Alfredo Marte in left and started Ender Inciarte for the second straight game in center.
“I want to get Marte in there,” Gibson added. “Really, I want to get everyone in and we’ll see how the game (Saturday) goes and games coming up.”
UP-DATE ON HUDSON
Coming off his second Tommy John surgery after re-tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, right-hander Daniel Hudson is progressing to the satisfaction of the organization.
Undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in as many years, Hudson appears determined to get back in the Diamondbacks’ rotation or the bullpen.
“(Hudson) threw a bullpen session just before we left (on the current road trip), and threw well,” manager Kirk Gibson reported before Saturday’s game. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”
Hudson’s 16-12 record and 3.49 ERA in 2011 was a principal reason why the Diamondbacks captured the National League West Division title. Now, he’s seems in a search-and-recovery mode in a valiant attempt to get back to the major leagues.
“I love the way the guy the competes and this is a huge loss for us,” Gibson added. “He’s a game-changer.”
During recent conversation in the Diamondbacks clubhouse in Chase Field, Hudson says he feels good and hopes to return to active competition by July.
MOVING ON AND NOT FACING BRAUN
The series with the Padres concludes Sunday afternoon with Wade Miley (2-3, 5.36 ERA) going against San Diego right-hander Tyson Ross (3-3, 3.68) in Petco Park.
Then, three with the Brewers in Milwaukee and three with the White Sox on the south side of Chicago.
In the Brewers series, the Diamondbacks will not pitch to outfielder Ryan Braun.
On Saturday, the Brewers placed Braun on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique muscle in his right side. Braun has not played April 27 and he was hitting .318 with six home runs, 18 RBIs in 22 games.
After the current nine game trip, the Diamondbacks return to Chase Field for a six game home stand. That features three with Washington and their manager, ex-Diamondbacks third baseman and coach Matt Williams and three with the Dodgers.