D-backs go batty to back Haren

D-backs go batty to back Haren

SAN FRANCISCO -- No one needs to remind the D-backs how important the road trip they started Friday night in San Francisco is.

Ten games in 10 days against National League West opponents, a chance to reclaim some of the lost momentum from April.

That's why there might have been a few more smiles than usual in AT&T Park's visiting clubhouse after the D-backs kicked things off by roughing up the Giants, 10-2.

"Nice way to start the road trip," starter Dan Haren said. "It's a very important road trip. Everyone knows it. Ten games against the division, so it was nice to come out, set the tone and get off on the right foot and hopefully go on from here."

They were almost assured of a good start with Haren on the mound. The right-hander has been nothing short of spectacular for the D-backs this year, though his record of 10-5 doesn't represent just how good he's been. That's because the Arizona offense more often than not has been AWOL in his starts.

Friday, though, was a different story as the D-backs came out swinging early against Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez (8-6).

The D-backs put up five runs against the left-hander in the second inning, which will likely be remembered most for back-to-back two-run doubles from Stephen Drew and Chris Young. What will get overlooked was Chris Burke hustling down the line to beat a relay throw on a groundout and Haren managing to follow that with a two-out walk.

"[They] put together a big inning with a lot of little things coming through," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "Sometimes it's the little things over the course of the game that end up giving you the opportunities to have big innings like that, and Chris Burke getting down the line was one of them."

The runs allowed Haren to approach the rest of the game in a more relaxed manner. Rather than grinding on every pitch as he does in a close game, Haren focused simply on throwing strikes.

As a result, he wound up allowing more hits -- nine in his eight innings -- than he might normally, but the man with the fewest walks per nine innings in the big leagues did not give the Giants any freebies while fanning nine.

"I had a six-run lead early, so I was able to be real aggressive in the zone," Haren said. "When that happens, I just attack the zone and try not to walk anybody. In that situation, the only way they get big innings is if I walk a couple of guys, so I was probably a little more aggressive in the strike zone than I usually am."

The D-backs offense continued to peck away, scoring a run in the third on a homer from Conor Jackson.

Arizona finally blew things open in the seventh when Mark Reynolds hit a three-run homer off reliever Geno Espineli and Chad Tracy followed with one of his own to push the D-backs' lead to 10-1.

"The add-ons in the seventh were big for us," Melvin said. "A lot of times, we'll get a little bit of a lead and not add on to it, but the seventh inning ended up being big for us. It was a nice game all around."

Said Reynolds, "It's a good confidence boost for our offense and we hopefully can keep it going. It's a huge road trip for us. It's just big to keep winning series and go home with a winning road trip."

The D-backs have had impressive wins before that they hoped would give them some momentum over the last two months only to wind up frustrated.

"We need to follow it up, is what we need to do tomorrow," Melvin said.

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