Livan's debut spoiled by Marlins rookie

Livan's debut spoiled in Arizona

PHOENIX -- Having not yet played the Marlins this year, the Diamondbacks did not know quite what to expect from the young, energetic ballclub on Friday night.

But Arizona soon realized just how dangerous Florida can be. Rookie right-hander Josh Johnson (10-6) limited the D-Backs to only a pair of hits over seven innings in Arizona's 4-1 loss in front of 21,950 at Chase Field.

The outing lowered Johnson's ERA to 2.69, which passed Arizona ace Brandon Webb (2.74) for the lowest mark in the National League.

"Everybody was saying the ball was playing better than the velocity," said Arizona manager Bob Melvin. "If you saw 92 [mph], it was getting on top of you a lot quicker. [He has] good mechanics, uses his legs well ... the ball just kind of jumps on you. Really, we haven't been stifled like that for a while."

The lack of run support spoiled Livan Hernandez's Diamondbacks debut. The 31-year-old right-hander (9-9) gave up four runs over eight innings, while fielding his position well and laying down two sacrifice bunts.

"He threw the ball where he wanted to [and was] economical with his pitches," Melvin said of Hernandez's eight-inning, 95-pitch effort.

"He's very aware of what's going on out there."

The first two runs by the Marlins came off the end of the bat with two outs, but Hernandez's biggest mistake of the night was in seventh inning, when Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run double up the middle, which plated Johnson and Hanley Ramirez and put the game out of reach.

"I feel very good," said Hernandez, who was acquired from the Nationals on Monday. "The Marlins as a team have not struck out too much. I tried with the sinker, and the sinker's perfect today. If I made a mistake, it was Cabrera. I tried to throw the fastball up and he jumped at the fastball. That was the ballgame right there."

Said Melvin: "The one pitch that hurt was Cabrera, and that was just good hitting."

Arizona's lone run came after Johnson was pulled for reliever Taylor Tankersly. Pinch-hitter Damion Easley laced a 3-2 pitch into the right-field bleachers in the eighth inning for the D-Backs' fifth pinch-hit homer this season.

While Eric Byrnes acknowledged Johnson's performance, the center fielder seemed to think the D-Backs could have been more prepared.

"The bottom line is we didn't come ready to play tonight," he said. "We haven't seen him before and he's got good stuff, but this is the Major Leagues. I don't think we really showed up tonight.

"They've got a good team and they're throwing some good arms at us, and we knew that coming in. This wasn't a surprise."

Byrnes, who went 0-for-4 and left two runners on base, shouldered the blame as the team's leadoff hitter.

"I definitely was at fault," he said. "I had a couple guys in scoring position, a chance to drive in some runs, got a couple pitches to hit and just didn't get the job done. In the big leagues, you got to take advantage of some mistakes. Just didn't take advantage of them."

But those mistakes were few and far between as Arizona had just three hits and stranded four runners on the night.

The Diamondbacks fell to 1 1/2 games behind the Dodgers and are now tied with the Padres for second in the fickle National League West. Arizona remained one-half game behind Cincinnati in the NL Wild Card race.

Lindsey Frazier is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.