Diamondbacks drop Braves
In a highly anticipated matchup of National League aces, Dan Haren out-pitched Derek Lowe to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 5-2 victory Thursday over the visiting Atlanta Braves.
“He was in control,” Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said about Haren, who allowed two runs on seven hits in eight innings. “No walks, eight strikeouts. He was terrific.”
While Haren (4-4, 2.54 ERA) limited the Braves to one run in the second inning and another in the eighth, the Diamondbacks broke through for four in the fourth against Lowe (6-3, 3.49 ERA).
Justin Upton, who went 3 for 4 to raise his batting average to .346, ignited the D-backs’ fourth-inning rally with a base hit to left field.
“He’s executing at-bats and getting pitches to hit,” Hinch said about Upton. “He’s not missing ’em.”
Heading into the fourth, the Diamondbacks and Braves were tied at 1-1, as Arizona scored on a triple by Eric Byrnes and a sacrifice fly by Chris Young in the second and Atlanta answered with doubles by Kelly Johnson and Chipper Jones in the third.
After Upton singled to lead off the fourth, Stephen Drew was safe on an error and Mark Reynolds lined a two-run double to left-center. Byrnes followed with an RBI single up the middle to put the Diamondbacks ahead 4-1. Byrnes advanced to third on a base hit by Chris Snyder and scored on a two-out single by Ryan Roberts.
Haren retired 15 consecutive batters from the third through the eighth innings. On his second pitch of the eighth inning, the 28-year-old right-hander twisted his left (landing) ankle on his follow-through and fell to the ground.
“I slipped,” said Haren, who was looked at by Diamondbacks trainers but stayed in the game. “Lowe creates a really big hole in the landing area. I was actually having trouble in warm-ups, and I tried to pitch off to the side of it and I kind of just rolled. It just kind of scared me for a second. Once I stood up, I knew I was fine.”
Haren proceeded to strike out Jordan Schafer, and he retired Greg Norton on a ground ball to the shortstop. After Johnson hit a two-out double and Casey Kotchman lined an RBI single to center field, Haren threw a called third strike past Jones to end the inning.
Hinch described Haren, who has allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his 10 starts this season, as “a student of pitching.”
“He’s in control of the game,” Hinch said. “It’s a sight to see. When he competes, he executes pitches. He has a game plan. He doesn’t back down. He thinks along with the hitters.”
Chad Qualls set down the side in order in the ninth inning to record his 12 th save.
By: Tom Kessler
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