Daniel Hudson has never thrown a shutout in the majors, and that fact was very much on his mind with one out to go.
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”Absolutely,” he said. ”Just two stupid pitches at the end.”
Those two offerings left the ballyard. Laynce Nix to right field, Jonny Gomes to left field. Hudson was soon walking to the dugout, having lost the complete game as well as the shutout. But he was a winner nonetheless Wednesday night as the Arizona Diamondbacks held on to beat the Washington Nationals 4-2.
”At least we won the game,” Hudson said. ”And that’s what’s important right now.”
Hudson (13-9) allowed nine hits, struck out six, walked none and threw 102 pitches before he hit the wall at 8-2/3 innings. J.J. Putz then came on to retire Wilson Ramos on a foul out to first for his 32nd save.
The Diamondbacks showed up at the ballpark later than usual and skipped batting practice for the second day in a row — manager Kirk Gibson’s way of getting everyone to relax after a six-game losing streak endangered Arizona’s lead in the NL West.
It’s working so far. Arizona won both games and holds a two-game lead over San Francisco. Sure enough, Gibson announced there would be no BP again Thursday when the teams wrap up the series.
”Probably the rest of the season,” catcher Miguel Montero said with a laugh. ”We’ve got to keep the superstition going, you know? And this is a game with a lot of superstition, and we’ve got to keep going. You see the movie ‘Bull Durham?’ It’s just kind of the same way.”
The score the previous night was 2-0, which means the Nationals were nearly blanked in back-to-back games by the Diamondbacks for the second time this season. Livan Hernandez (7-12) allowed four runs and seven hits with one walk and five strikeouts over 7-1/3 innings.
”That’s what that team is known for,” said Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who streak of 29 consecutive games reaching base came to an end. ”They don’t score that many runs, they get big hits when they need them, and then their pitching staff kind of carries them. The last two games, that’s what they’ve done to us.”
The Nationals nearly scored in the eighth after Ramos’ single and Ian Desmond’s double put runners on second and third with one out. But Rick Ankiel lined out to first, and Diamondbacks new acquisition John McDonald followed with a highlight play to preserve the shutout. The shortstop fielded Zimmerman’s chopper up the middle, did a 360 and threw a one-hopper to first baseman Lyle Overbay, who made a nice, clean snag that beat Zimmerman by a hair.
McDonald’s new teammates were instantly impressed.
”I never thought he had a chance, man,” Montero said. ”I heard he can pick it. He showed me today. It was a really nice play.”
Arizona got on the board in the fourth when Gomes dropped the ball while taking it out of his glove on Chris Young’s double to the left field corner, an error that allowed Justin Upton to score from first. Overbay followed with an RBI single to right.
In the eighth, Ryan Roberts and Gerardo Parra singled back to back to chase Hernandez, and Montero drove both runners home with a single off reliever Henry Rodriguez.
The Diamondbacks unveiled a new lineup, featuring the two players acquired the day before in a trade with Toronto. Aaron Hill started at second base, taking the spot held by Kelly Johnson, who was dealt to the Blue Jays, while McDonald was at shortstop.
Having played only in the other circuit, Hill and McDonald arrived in town early Wednesday and started on a crash course on all things National League — for a team in a pennant race.
”That’s the one thing I think it’s going to take the most getting used to, learning a lot of the new players,” McDonald said. ”Being in the American League, you can put a lineup in front of me, I know where to go. I’ve got some studying to do.”
NOTES: Another milestone for Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg in his return from Tommy John surgery: He took batting practice Wednesday. Strasburg will pitch Saturday for Triple-A Syracuse in his fifth minor league rehab start, and it’ll be the first one in which he’ll have to hit. ”He’s wanted to hit, but nobody’s been letting him,” manager Davey Johnson said. Strasburg likely has two starts left before making his much anticipated return to the majors sometime around Sept. 6. He threw a side session Wednesday before his BP. … Nationals OF Jayson Werth sat out after leaving Tuesday’s game early with a strained groin. ”He would play if we were in a pennant race or something,” Johnson said. … Arizona’s starting infield of Hill, McDonald, 1B Overbay and 3B Roberts reunited a foursome that played together for the Blue Jays in 2007. ”If that can help us win a game, I’ll be all excited about it,” Gibson said. … The Diamondbacks designated INF Cody Ransom for assignment to make room for the players acquired in the trade.