D-Backs walk away with sweep of A's

D-Backs walk away with sweep of A's

OAKLAND -- In the end, the Diamondbacks just seemed to wear Barry Zito down.

The A's lefty frustrated the Arizona hitters through eight innings on Sunday afternoon, but a ninth-inning error by first baseman Dan Johnson wound up leading to two late runs as the D-Backs beat the A's, 3-1, to sweep the three-game set at McAfee Coliseum.

The three-game winning streak for Arizona is its first since June 1-4, and the D-Backs continued to show signs that they may have put their 3-20 stretch in June behind them.

"I think we're playing pretty good ball right now," said starter Brandon Webb, who improved to 9-3 with the complete-game win. "The emotions and stuff are up, and the intensity level is high it seems right now, so I'm hoping we're past it."

Webb, who was informed by manager Bob Melvin prior to the game that he had been selected for the National League All-Star team, went out and pitched like an All-Star, allowing just four hits.

"He had his good stuff. He was pounding the strike zone, and we were getting some early swings, getting ahead of all the hitters," catcher Johnny Estrada said. "You know, the A's are notorious for taking pitches, and we were pounding strike one all day."

Oakland designated hitter Frank Thomas did some pounding of his own when he clubbed an 0-2 sinker that didn't sink enough over the left-field wall to lead off the second and give the A's a 1-0 lead.

The D-Backs tied the game in the fourth thanks to an RBI single by Luis Gonzalez.

But that was all either pitcher would allow through eight innings.

"Zito pitched brilliantly," Melvin said. "It was as advertised. Both of them pitched beautifully, both of them pitched well enough to win. Our bats, earlier on, weren't very good. We got some guys on base and swung at some first pitches that we probably shouldn't have."

They would make up for that in the ninth.

Chad Tracy started the final frame by hitting a grounder to first that Johnson couldn't handle. Conor Jackson then stroked a Zito curveball into the left-field corner for a double to put runners at second and third.

With his pitch count over 100, Zito got Gonzalez to ground out and then walked Estrada intentionally to fill the bases with one out for Shawn Green, who was 0-for-3 with a strikeout at that point in the game.

"The first three at-bats he painted every pitch to me -- fastballs, curveballs and sliders," said Green. "That [ninth inning] at-bat -- first pitch in, fastball for a called strike. It was a perfect pitch for him. I thought he was going to keep doing the same thing he's done and then he threw a lot of breaking balls."

Green wound up drawing a walk to force in the go-ahead run, and Orlando Hudson followed with a sacrifice fly to give Arizona a 3-1 lead. Zito, who matched a career-high with 128 pitches thrown, was removed after facing Hudson.

"Especially late in the game, if you make a guy throw some pitches, at some point in time, something could break," Melvin said.

What seems to have snapped are the doldrums that plagued Arizona during June.

"Huge," Melvin said. "This is a very good club, in first place, in their ballpark. The way we've been playing to come in here and get three and kind of distance ourselves from the problems we've had, today ended up being a huge one for us.

"Hopefully this June thing is gone."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.