Micah Owings' teammates are struggling to find comparisons to the multi-tasking hitter/pitcher who is doing it from both sides.
"Babe Ruth comes to mind," Conor Jackson said Wednesday, after Owings smacked a pinch-hit two-out, two-run, opposite-field home run in the sixth inning, tying the game at 7 before Eric Byrnes singled in the winning run two batters later.
"It's all about Micah. Forget about my hit. Micah got the whole thing going," Byrnes said. "It's unbelievable. I'm not sure if I've ever hit a ball like that in my life, a slider line drive the other way out to the opposite field. Actually, I take it back. I know I haven't. I marvel at his ability. He is something special."
Owings is 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA and is hitting .421 with a homer, a double and two singles in his four most recent plate appearances. He has six hits in his last 10 at-bats. He hit .333 with seven homers, four doubles and 15 RBIs to win the 2007 NL Silver Slugger award.
Owings received the ultimate respect Wednesday, when Houston manager Cecil Cooper made a pitching change after Owings was announced as a pinch hitter, replacing a left-hander with right-hander Dave Borkowski. Owings homered on the first pitch he saw.
"Micah is swinging the bat great. It wasn't a tough decision," said manager Bob Melvin, who has used Owings as a pinch hitter four times already this season after using him six times all of 2007.
Owings' pinch homer was the first for a major league pitcher since Milwaukee's Brooks Kieschnick connected off the Diamondbacks' Matt Mantei on April 22, 2004.
"I wanted to put a good swing on it," said Owings, who admitted he was thinking home run in a game the D-backs trailed 7-5. "They don't put me in there to get a single. I've been blessed to be able to swing it."
DIAMONDBACKS 8, ASTROS 7: The D-backs won their eighth series in the last nine by overcoming two four-run deficits, the second rally keyed when Micah Owings hit a game-tying, two-run homer in the sixth inning. Chris Young followed with a double, and Eric Byrnes then hit the tiebreaking single. Randy Johnson gave up six runs in four innings during his fourth start of the season. The D-backs (20-8) extended the best start in franchise history, and they have not lost a series since the losing two of three games to Cincinnati in the first series of the year.
--RHP Max Scherzer was promoted to the starting rotation Wednesday morning, less than a day after he retired all 13 batters he faced, striking out seven, in his major league debut in relief. Scherzer will replace RHP Edgar Gonzalez (1-2, 6.55 ERA) in the rotation and is scheduled to start against Philadelphia on Monday. "This is the start of what we believe will be big things for him," manager Bob Melvin said.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to go out and get wins for my team. I like pitching the best. Whatever role, I'll do," Scherzer, whose first game was more special because his parents, best friend and girlfriend were in attendance. "It was a good night."
--RHP Micah Owings hit a two-out, two-run, pinch home run in the sixth inning Wednesday to tie a game the Diamondbacks won 8-7. It was the first pinch homer by a major league pitcher since Milwaukee's Brooks Kieschnick homered off D-backs RHP Matt Mantei on April 22, 2004. Owings has hits in each of his last four plate appearances and is batting .421. "Babe Ruth comes to mind," 1B Conor Jackson said. Owings, the 2007 NL Silver Slugger award winner after hitting .333 with four homers and 15 RBIs, has been used four times as a pinch hitter this season after being called on six times all of last year.
--3B Mark Reynolds was given a day off Wednesday, his first non-injury day off in the season. Reynolds, hitting .245 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs, had three hits in his last 29 at-bats, with 17 strikeouts. He is sixth in the NL in RBIs and is tied for the league lead with 38 strikeouts.
--OF Eric Byrnes returned to the starting lineup Wednesday after missing three of the previous six starts, saying his right hamstring is "a lot better. We have the best training staff in baseball. They don't get enough credit." Byrnes cited trainer Ken Crenshaw, assistant trainer Dave Edwards, strength and conditioning coach Nate Shaw and manual therapist Neil Rampe.
--The D-backs extended their best start in franchise history, and they finished with 20 victories in March/April, winning their first game May 31 in Cincinnati. The D-backs have had two 20-win months in team history -- 20-6 in June 2003, and 20-8 in August 1999. They have won 19 games in a month three times.
--1B Conor Jackson hit his second home run in as many games Wednesday and also made another acrobatic defensive play, this time reversing his field on a spinning grounder by Carlos Lee to barehand the ball while on his back and flipping to RHP Chad Qualls at first for the out.