Diamondbacks defeat Dodgers
Billy Buckner pitched six scoreless innings and Josh Whitesell delivered a two-run double to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 3-2 victory Monday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Buckner allowed four hits and two walks as the Diamondbacks won the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. The 25-year-old right-hander struck out five batters as he improved his record to 2-1 and his ERA to 5.24.
“He competed,” Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said about Buckner. “He kept them in-between pitches a little bit, got the ground balls he needed to, got some big punch-outs when he needed to and turned it over to the bullpen there at the end. For a starting pitcher to go six innings, no runs, it’s definitely a quality start.”
Buckner, who was making his third start and sixth appearance of the season, rebounded from his previous outing on Wednesday, when he was charged with five runs in five innings in an 8-5 loss to the San Diego Padres.
“He was mixing his pitches much better tonight than he did his previous start,” Hinch said. “He never really got in a sequence that was predictable. He threw fastballs in when he needed to. He painted some away. He mixed in a good changeup tonight, and then he threw a couple good breaking balls. Again, had guys in-between pitches and got big outs when he needed to.”
Buckner allowed a leadoff double to Matt Kemp in the third inning and a two-base hit by Orlando Hudson to begin the fourth, but he escaped both innings unscathed.
Buckner worked out of trouble twice in the sixth. In that inning, he got Mark Loretta to ground into a double play following a leadoff single by Juan Pierre. After Buckner issued two-out walks to Hudson and James Loney, he threw a called third strike past Russell Martin.
The Diamondbacks scored twice in the second inning off Hiroki Kuroda, who was making his first start for the Dodgers since Opening Day on April 6. Stephen Drew led off the inning with a double but was promptly picked off second base by Kuroda, who had missed eight weeks with an oblique injury. After Mark Reynolds and Miguel Montero walked and Chris Young struck out, Whitesell lined a double to right field to drive in his first two runs of the season.
Kuroda (1-1, 2.53 ERA) pitched five innings on the night, allowing two runs on three hits. The 34-year-old right-hander struck out six and walked three.
The Diamondbacks increased their lead to 3-0 in the top of the eighth when Gerardo Parra singled, advanced two bases on a pair of wild pitches by Brent Leach and scored on a ground ball off the bat of Reynolds.
With closer Chad Qualls unavailable because of forearm stiffness, the Diamondbacks called upon Tony Pena to pitch the bottom of the ninth. After the Dodgers scored two unearned runs on three hits and an error, Pena retired Loretta on a fly ball to left field to end the game and post his first save of the year.
With the victory, the Diamondbacks (23-29) pulled to within 11.5 games of the first-place Dodgers (35-18) in the National League West.
By: Tom Kessler
> View all of the MLB baseball news articles from ProBaseball-fans.com.