PHOENIX — Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy has pitched through some tough times this season, and Friday provided another trial.
For one, Atlanta left fielder Justin Heyward took a fastball that was about a half-foot outside and drove it into the left field seats for a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Then, when McCarthy pitched around Heyward for his only walk of the game in the seventh, Andrelton Simmons doubled in the tie-breaking run in Atlanta’s 5-2 victory at Chase Field.
That McCarthy had his first career RBI was small consolation as he dropped to 1-8.
"I have as many RBI as wins in the second week of June. That’s probably not a great thing," McCarthy said.
Heyward’s home run came on a four-seam fastball that McCarthy was trying to throw outside in order to set up his next pitch. But it never got that far. The ball landed into the second row of seats, Heyward’s sixth homer.
"That’s just a ball," McCarthy said. "It was 6-7 inches off the plate, and he went after it. It is a pitch I don t expect to get hit at all. It was right where I wanted it. I wanted to use it to establish something else. He took a swing at it and hit a home run. Pretty surprising, and it kind of sucks it was a two-run homer on that. It’s a credit to a guy like that like that to find his pitch do something with it."
McCarthy deserved better. His fastball sat at 95 mph most of the night and he struck out nine in 6-1/3 innings.
Heyward was a little surprised about his home run, too, although he has become comfortable going the other way.
"I got some long arms. I could reach it, kind of," he said.
"Not trying to do too much. Just try to hit it hard and it happened to get out of there. Just let them (pitchers) dictate where I hit it. Not trying to pull. Not try to go the other way. Just try to be on time and not miss the good ones to hit. It’s not going to happen every time, but the more times I do it right, good for me."
The D-backs (26-37) managed only five hits off the Atlanta staff as they tried to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games,.
Didi Gregorius homered to lead off the bottom of the first, and David Peralta had the only other extra-base hit off Julio Teheran and three relievers, including closer Craig Kimbrel.
Peralta has hit safely in all five games he has played since a recall from Double-A Mobile, and his fifth inning double preceded McCarthy’s ground single to left field that tied the game at 2.
But the D-backs, who had 48 hits in a three-game sweep of Colorado at Coors Field, could not mount much, had only two singles the rest of the way.
McCarthy has found himself on the wrong side of big innings several times this season, but that was not an issue Friday. He stranded runners on first and second base in both the second and sixth innings, a small victory.
"The last few weeks have been tough," said McCarthy, whose ERA is 5.13, ahead of only Colorado’s Franklin Morales among 58 National League qualifiers.
"It has just been a weird season. There were a couple of situations I got out of that I did a better job of keeping myself in the moment. Not let things spiral. Just make as many pitches as I can. I was happy with that today, as opposed to the past two weeks, where that wasn’t the case. There are positives to be taken from that. There is still work to be done."
Didi Gregorius became the only D-back in franchise history to hit leadoff homers in consecutive starts when he hit homered off Julio Teheran on the fifth pitch of the first inning. He led off the 16-8 victory over Colorado on Wednesday with a homer. He was given Thursday off, and manager Kirk Gibson said he will start at second base Saturday.
5 — hitting streak by David Peralta, who has hit safely in every game since his promotion from Double-A Mobile last Sunday.
* Craig Kimbrel made some history with his four-out save Friday. With his 155th save Kimbrell broke a tie with John Smoltz to become Atlanta’s career leader. "I got a chance at a young age, and been put in some situations where I am where I am now," said Kimbrel, who took over the closer’s role in 2011 at 23. He turned 26 on May 28. "Its pretty awesome." He has three four-out saves, the longest of his career. "My job is to pitch. If I have to come in and get four five outs, that’s my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do."
* B.J. Upton was held out of the Atlanta lineup after his wife delivered their first child Thursday. Upton was on a tight plane schedule, expected to arrive at Sky Harbor at 5:30 pm for a 6:40 pm game, and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez did not want to make Upton rush.
* Brandon McCarthy got the D-backs’ only hit with runners in scoring position with his RBI single in the fifth. Martin Prado had the other other chance, but he struck out on a Kimbrel fastball with a runner on second base for the final out of the eighth inning of a 3-2 game.
Justin Upton and Brandon McCarthy developed a friendship during the offseason. Both live here, and neither has kids, a good start. The two played golf several times. "Great guy," Upton said. "One of the guys I keep up with. When we step across those lines, we are both competitors." McCarthy got the better of Upton, striking him out three times in their first meeting.