D-backs ace Brandon Webb, who opened the season by winning his first nine starts, couldn't hold the Braves down on Monday in a 7-3 loss at Turner Field.
"I just wasn't sharp," Webb said. "Started off and everything they hit seemed to find holes. [I] wasn't working ahead and didn't have a real good fastball. My velocity was bad. I know I had a bunch of strikeouts, but it didn't seem like I could ever make the big pitch when I needed to."
That's something that you don't often see from the man who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2006 and finished second in the voting last year.
Monday, though, things didn't go Webb's way.
In the first, Mark Teixeira, who was 0-for-11 in the first three games of the series, lined a curveball down the right-field line to score a pair and give Atlanta a 2-0 lead.
In the second, with runners at first and second, and pitcher Jair Jurrjens at the plate in an obvious bunt situation, the D-backs put on what is known as the "wheel play." That meant that third baseman Mark Reynolds and first baseman Chad Tracy were charging in hard from the corners with shortstop Stephen Drew moving to cover third where the D-backs were going to throw for the forceout.
Jurrjens deadened a bunt just onto the grass to the left of the pitcher's mound, Reynolds fielded it, heard catcher Chris Snyder yell, "three" and his off-balance throw got by Drew to allow a run to score and put runners at second and third with no outs.
"If we make that play it might be a little different story," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "Not to say really that it's anybody's fault, we were trying to make the play and just didn't do it. It was a perfect bunt."
Webb struck out the next two hitters before walking Chipper Jones to load the bases.
That brought up Teixeira and this time Webb broke his bat with an inside fastball, but he was still able to flare the ball to right for a two-run single which put Atlanta up, 5-1.
"He gets a two-run hit there and I don't know, you shake your head," Webb said.
The bunt play left Reynolds scratching his after the game.
"In hindsight, probably just get the out at first and take our chances with Webby getting the next guy out," Reynolds said. "I think I've got to realize that I'm off balance and it's a tough play falling backwards like that and making a good throw with Stephen on the run. I short-hopped it to Stephen and he couldn't handle it and it was like that was kind of the turning point of the game and we couldn't overcome that."
Webb allowed two more runs before being lifted with one out in the fifth, by far his worst outing of the year as he allowed seven runs, four earned, on 10 hits.
"Some days I think it's just not there," he said.
It certainly wasn't for the D-backs as a whole during this road trip. They were swept in Florida and scored just three runs in the process before splitting the four-game set in Atlanta. Arizona returns home for a six-game homestand that begins on Tuesday.
"We responded pretty well here against a hot team playing as well at home as anybody," Melvin said referring to the Braves best-in-the-Majors 22-7 home record. "We didn't play well in Florida, but we didn't play bad here. And even today we had some opportunities. Two out of four here isn't the worst thing in the world."
True, but seven games into a stretch during which they will play 26 of 38 games away from home, they need to improve on their 11-13 road record.
"We're not playing too good on the road this year," Reynolds said. "We're going to have to learn to quick, because we've got what, eight home games in June? It's just one of those things where you have to not think about it, and just go play and get ahead early."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less