After looking terrible in the first month and a half of the season, Edwin Jackson had put together four of five strong starts. That all came to a crashing halt Tuesday night as Jackson reverted to his old ways against the Atlanta Braves in the Arizona Diamondbacks' 7-5 loss at Chase Field. Jackson never looked sharp, giving up a run in the first inning and eventually surrendering four earned runs in six innings.
Exhibiting the lack of command that had appeared to have helped him turn his season around, Jackson needed 109 pitches to get through those six innings. The 26-year-old gave up nine hits and three walks while striking out only five batters, his lowest total since May 2. Jackson ended up with a no-decision because the D-Backs offense also struck early, giving Jackson a 4-3 lead through five innings in front of a pathetic 17,052 fans, the team's smallest home crowd of the season.
With both starting pitchers gone by the end of the sixth inning, the Braves' bullpen outpitched the D-Backs' bullpen down the stretch, giving up just two hits and a run over the final four innings. Meanwhile, the relieving trio of Blaine Boyer, Esmerling Vasquez, and Juan Gutierrez each gave up one run in the one inning they worked. Gutierrez's season in hell continued as he pitched the ninth inning and the D-Backs trailing only 6-5. He allowed two hits, issued a walk, and even served up a wild pitch to raise his ERA to (gulp) 10.24 on the season.
Three D-Back hitters homered in the loss, but the offense still gathered only seven hits on the night, three of which were by Kelly Johnson. The second baseman's homer was his 13th on the season. Justin Upton hit his ninth and Mark Reynolds hit 14th and second in two nights. Long overdue hot streaks by Upton and Reynolds are what's needed if the D-Backs want to make any noise in what is very quickly becoming a lost season.
They are now 23-36 and in last place in the National League West, 12 games behind the front-running Dodgers. Only the Baltimore Orioles (16-42) and Cleveland Indians (21-36) have worse records than the Diamondbacks.
The D-Backs will play game three of the four-game win series tonight at 6:40 at Chase Field. Kenshin Kawakami (0-8, 4.91 ERA) will face the D-Backs' Ian Kennedy (3-3, 3.46). TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info: www.dbacks.com