Dan Haren set the pace for the Arizona Diamondbacks with a seven-hit, two-run, eight-strikeouts, no-walks performance in eight innings on the mound Thursday night.
He improved his record to 4-4.
And he got something he's been denied in several starts this season: run production from his offense. Precisely, Arizona batters got 11 hits and five runs in the D-Backs' 5-2 plastering of the Atlanta Braves at Chase Field.
Four of the runs and five of the hits came in the fourth inning when 21-year-old phenom Justin Upton started things off by blistering a ground-ball single between third and short. The ball zipped by Braves superstar third baseman Chipper Jones before he could raise his glove. The Arizona right fielder, who may be on his way to becoming one of the great hitters in the game, went three for four on the night to raise his batting average to .346.
Then, Stephen Drew reached on an error by Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson; Mark Reynonds took Atlanta pitcher Derek Lowe to deep left-center field for a double, driving in Upton and Drew; Eric Byrnes blooped a single just over Johnson's head in center to drive in Reynolds; Chris Snyder singled between first and second, moving Byrnes to third; and (after Haren popped out) Ryan Roberts singled to right-center to score Byrnes.
It was one of the biggest innings of the season for the Snakes, and it was against Atlanta ace Lowe (6-3, 3.49 ERA).
The D-Backs scored their first run in the second inning when Byrnes -- 2-2 on the evening for a change -- tripled, and Chris Young hit a sacrifice fly to bring him home.
Atlanta, 23-24, got its first run in the third, when Jones tripled off the wall to score Johnson, and managed another in the eighth.
But the Braves might've gotten something going in the ninth if not for two spectacular plays by Snakes second baseman Augie Ojeda and shortstop Drew. The lightning-quick Ojeda grabbed what would've been a sure hit in shallow center field and miraculously threw out the runner at first, and Drew followed with a diving grab in the hole between short and third, firing the ball from his knees to nab the runner by a hair. Reliever Chad Qualls, who was bailed out by these miracle plays, then struck out the next batter to end the game.
Arizona improved to 21-27. After they lost the previous San Diego series 2-1 at home, let's hope this win puts some wind in the D-Backs' sails. It's time fans saw some consistency from this talented team. (We're not talking about the bullpen here; they suck. Face it, Arizona would be at least .500 if not for these bums.)
This was the first of a four-game series between the Braves and Snakes. Probable pitchers for tonight's game are Jair Jurrjens (4-2, 2.07) for Atlanta and Jon Garland (4-3, 4.70) for Arizona. First pitch is at 6:40. TV: Fox Sports Arizona, Radio: KTAR-AM 620. More info: www.dbacks.com.
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