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Owings, D-backs cruise past Giants

Owings, D-backs cruise past Giants

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SAN FRANCISCO -- If this keeps up, people might actually talk about Micah Owings' pitching before his hitting.

The right-hander won his third straight start Tuesday afternoon, as he pitched the D-backs past the Giants, 8-2, in front of 30,068 at AT&T Park.

Last season as a rookie, Owings gained notoriety for his hitting when he smacked four homers, including two in one game, and though he pitched well down the stretch, it seemed the majority of the attention he got leading into this season focused on his hitting.

"My whole life [before last year], I was more known as a pitcher, and then a hitter," he said.

One reason people are starting to take notice of Owings' pitching is an improvement in his changeup. Now he has another weapon to go along with his fastball and slider, which is something that he lacked at times early last season.

The changeup got better last season, but it really took off during the offseason, when, after talking with Hall of Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter, Owings decided to essentially use the same grip on the pitch, but rotate the ball in his hand.

"I feel a lot better with it this year and am able to use it more and more to lefties and righties," Owings said. "I have a lot of confidence in it. It's a big pitch for me."

It's certainly helped him get off to a roaring start to the season after struggling throughout the spring. Owings' ERA is just 2.29, and he has allowed only 12 hits in 19 2/3 innings.

"He's throwing strikes and getting ahead," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "He's got a better changeup this year, a better slider."

Owings mixed in more sliders as Tuesday's game went on, getting some called strikes on the pitch, but also getting hitters to wave through it.

Like most D-backs starters these days, Owings was given an early lead.

Arizona entered Tuesday with the most home runs in baseball, and the D-backs showed why, as Conor Jackson hit a solo homer in the second and Chris Young followed with a two-run shot one inning later off Giants starter Kevin Correia to give Owings a 3-0 advantage.

Young is now 3-for-8 with three home runs in his career against Correia.

"He's such a good mistake hitter," Correia said. "Every time I've made that mistake to him, he's hit it. It seems like you can get away with stuff on some other guys; certain guys, as soon as you make that mistake, they hit the ball very well."

Young's homer was his fifth, which ties him for the league lead with -- wait for it -- two of his teammates, Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds.

It's that kind of power and offensive potential up and down the order that has propelled the D-backs to the top of the league in runs scored.

"Balance has kind of been the key for us this year," Melvin said.

"Offensively, we've got a lot of things going," Young said. "That's the type of lineup we have. There's really not a weak link, so it's going to be a battle for any team to get through us easily."

Jackson has hit just two home runs this season, but despite missing time after being hit in the hand with a pitch as well as suffering from a nasty case of the flu, he has found a way to drive home 13 runs.

"He's had a good approach basically all year," Melvin said. "He's a different guy. He's a little bit stronger than last year, he's focused every day and just committed. He's a run producer."

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

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