Owings Returns to Form

Owings Returns to Form

Micah Owings bounced back from a terrible July in an eventual 9-5 Arizona Diamondbacks victory over the Padres in extra innings.

INSIDE PITCH

Micah Owings needed to see results. Positive results. Another shaky start in the Diamondbacks rotation, and the rookie right-hander knew he might be looking at another role in the organization, likely in Class AAA Tucson.

But Owings, who had been 0-4 in his last seven starts and was carrying a 9.55 ERA in July, came through when he needed to most.

Owings allowed just one run and four hits over six fairly solid innings, and although he still hasn't picked up a victory since June 20 against Tampa Bay, he pitched well enough to win. The Diamondbacks wound up beating the Padres 9-5 in 11 innings Wednesday night to remain in first place in the National League West.

Owings also went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI and lasted six innings for just the second time in his last seven starts.

He lost his shot at picking up the victory when closer Jose Valverde blew his fifth save in 36 chances. But manager Bob Melvin was pleased with the rookie's outing and will be counting on more efforts like this last one as the Diamondbacks get ready for the stretch run and try to stave off the Dodgers, Padres and Rockies in a tightly contested NL West race.

Owings has been spending extra time lately working with pitching coach Bryan Price, altering a few small things with his mechanics and trying to get more execution early in counts with his two-seam fastball.

"I'm going to keep working and keep fighting, and any struggles I've had I know I'm going to learn from, and it's going to make me better in the long run," Owings said.

DIAMONDBACKS 9, PADRES 5 (11 innings): The Diamondbacks won for the 10th time in their last 11 games and joined the New York Mets as the only two teams in the National League with 60 wins in beating the Padres on Wednesday at PETCO Park.

Arizona collected 15 hits and remains in first place in the NL West, but the Diamondbacks had to go to extra innings after blowing a four-run lead in the ninth. The game featured several twists and turns as well as exciting plays, highlighted by Chris Young robbing Mike Cameron in the fifth inning of a grand slam by reaching over the wall in center field to bring the ball back.

Jeff DaVanon, playing for injured right fielder Carlos Quentin, led off the 11th with a double to right field off Heath Bell that former Diamondback Scott Hairston nearly caught on a diving attempt.

Augie Ojeda sacrificed DaVanon to third. Young struck out, and after Orlando Hudson drew a two-out walk, DaVanon scored the go-ahead run on a dribbler back up the middle by Eric Byrnes that Khalil Greene couldn't field cleanly with a bare hand.

Chad Tracy followed with a pinch-hit, three-run homer to center field to break it open.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RF Carlos Quentin suffered a pulled right hamstring while rounding the bases on a double Wednesday night in San Diego. He is listed as day-to-day.

--INF Chad Tracy said the shot of synthetic gel he had injected into his bothersome right knee has improved the situation greatly, and manager Bob Melvin plans to put him in the starting lineup Thursday in San Diego.

"It feels the best it has since it started (hurting)," Tracy said. "Hopefully, some of the stuff we're doing will stick, and I'll finish up strong."

--CF Chris Young is batting .291 in the leadoff spot and .198 everywhere else in the order. "I'm just going to say it's a coincidence," Young said.

--INF Chad Tracy's three-run, pinch-hit homer at San Diego on Wednesday was the 11th pinch-hit homer of the season by a Diamondback, tops in the majors and one shy of tying the club record in a single season.

--RHP Brandon Lyon, on needing one more hold to become the franchise's all-time leader with 45: "I'm more just about helping my team win than worrying about that kind of stuff."

--OF Eric Byrnes on CF Chris Young leaping over the wall to steal a potential grand slam by Mike Cameron in the fifth inning of Wednesday's game against the Padres: "That might be the greatest play I've ever seen."

BY THE NUMBERS: 23 -- Earned runs allowed by rookie right-hander Micah Owings in his last five starts, through July 26. He held San Diego to one run in six innings Aug. 1.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can deal with the pain, but the symptoms aren't allowing me to pitch. When I bend over, my hamstring with the nerve in there just feels like it's on fire. To do that repeated times, makes my leg weak. ... Everything just starts kind of shutting down." -- Left-hander Randy Johnson on deciding the miss the rest of the season by undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back.

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