Buckner Better as a Starter

Buckner Better as a Starter

Billy Buckner' spot start Friday was nearly spotless, quite a departure from his April struggles in the Arizona Diamondbacks' bullpen.

Right-hander Billy Buckner would not have started Friday -- would not even have been in the major leagues -- if not for a Monday rainstorm in Florida.

That rainout forced a doubleheader Wednesday and the need for another starting pitcher, and Buckner made the most of his emergency start after a promotion from Class AAA Reno.

Buckner gave up only one run, a first-inning home run by Oakland's Matt Holliday, and five hits in 7 1/3 innings of the D-backs' 2-1 victory. It was his longest career outing and the second quality start among his six career starts, five with Kansas City.

"In the last four starts I made in Triple-A, my curveball was really my pitch," Buckner said. "It wasn't my best pitch tonight, but we were able to use some two-seamers and a few changeups. That's why you need three pitches as a starter.

"I guess the timing's perfect."

Buckner, who opened the season in the D-backs' bullpen before being optioned to Class AAA Reno two weeks into the season, was 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 10 relief appearances for the D-backs last season. He was 1-2 with a 5.29 with Kansas City in 2007 before being obtained in an off-season trade for infielder Alberto Callaspo.

"He's always had a good breaking ball, but seeing him pitch with conviction with his sinker and changeup, going right after hitters, is exactly what our club needed and exactly what he needed in a big start in the big leagues," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "He did his job and gave us every chance to win that game."

DIAMONDBACKS 2, A'S 1: RHP Billy Buckner won his first start of the season to help the D-backs to their first three-game winning streak of the year in the opening of interleague play. OF Gerardo Parra had an RBI single in the third inning and OF Chris Young homered in the fifth after Buckner gave up a homer to OF Matt Holliday in the first. Buckner gave up five hits and two walks in 7 1/3 innings.

SNAKE BYTES

--IF Augie Ojeda's stolen base in the third inning Friday was his first stolen base since June 17, 2007, in his second game with the D-backs after being purchased from Class AAA Tucson on June 15. Ojeda homered in his first game with the D-backs.

--OF Chris Young's tiebreaking home run in the fifth inning Friday was his third of the year and his first since April 21, a span of 82 at-bats. Young, who hit ninth in the order for the first time in his career, broke an 0-for-21 streak with his homer. It was his second RBI since April 28.

--RHP Jon Rauch recorded his second save in three days by retiring OF Ryan Sweeney on a groundout with runners on first and second and two outs in the ninth inning. Rauch was called into service because RHP closer Chad Qualls was unavailable, having pitched on three straight days. Qualls got two saves and a victory, the win coming in his first two-inning appearance of the season in the second game of a doubleheader May 20. Rauch saved that game.

--OF Gerardo Parra, who singled in the D-backs' first run Friday, has a hit and an RBI in six of his eight starts this season. Parra made his third start in left field in place of OF Eric Byrnes. He has four starts in center.

--LHP Clay Zavada has retired all four batters he has faced in his two major league appearances after getting the only batter he faced Friday, OF Jack Cust, to fly out to left field with the potential tying run at second base.

--LHP Scott Schoeneweis, placed on the bereavement list following the death of his wife Wednesday, issued a statement Thursday. "On behalf of my and Gabrielle's entire family I want to express my deepest appreciation for the prayers and support of my current and former teammates, front office and team personnel and dear friends both inside and outside of the baseball community. Your support is needed and appreciated during this most difficult time. We want all of you to know how important your love and friendship is to all of us." The Maricopa County sheriff's office does not suspect foul play but has not determined the cause of death.

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