The D-backs' 14-game road losing streak was the third-longest in the majors in the 2000s, after 15-game streaks by Seattle (2004) and Cleveland (2009). That was snapped when Edwin Jacson faced his former team on Saturday and pitched 7.2 solid innings to give the D-backs a 6-5 victory over Detroit.
"Those guys are my friends, but when we go between the lines, they are trying to hit me and I'm trying to get them out," Jackson said.
Jackson's victories bracketed the D-backs' franchise-record 14-game road losing streak. The D-backs had not won a road game since Jackson beat Florida on May 17. Jackson is 4-6 with a 5.05 ERA overall, but those numbers are skewed by blowout losses in Coors Field and Wrigley Field. He is 3-1 with a 2.94 ERA and five quality starts in seven appearances since that Florida game, with 47 strikeouts in 52 innings. He pitched nine shutout innings in Los Angeles against the Dodgers on June 1 but did not receive a decision.
On Saturday, Jackson had only allowed two runs through five innings before surrendering runs in both the sixth and the seventh. Manager A.J. Hinch has ridden his starters deep into games for fear of turning it over to the worst bullpen in Major League Baseball. That tendency proved valid Saturday, as new closer Aaron Heilman let the tying run into scoring position in the ninth after coming in to protest a two-run lead in the eighth.
Aaron Heilman's four-out save Saturday, his first save opportunity since replacing Chad Qualls as the closer at the start of the road trip Tuesday, was the 11th save of his eight-year major league career, and the first he has recorded before the All-Star break. All of his 10 previous saves with the Mets and the Cubs came August 1 or later.
That save was more relief for the team as a whole than for Jackson on a personal level. The player Jackson was traded for, Max Scherzer, may have had more of a personal ax to grind Sunday as D-backs manager Josh Byrnes questioned Scherzer's ability to work deep into games shortly after trading him.
The D-backs appeared to have their ex-teammate right where they wanted him Sunday, scoring one run in the first inning and forcing him to throw 36 pitches. But the D-backs got only two singles by 1B Rusty Ryal in Scherzer's final six innings, when he faced only 20 batters, two over the minimum. He finished with 118 pitches over seven innings, striking out eight batters.
"We let him off the hook," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "Give him credit for making adjustments and extending himself deep into games."
Scherzer is now 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA, 41 strikeouts, and 11 walks in 31 innings over the five starts he has made since returning from his minor league tuneup in May. He had been 1-4 with a 7.29 ERA, 26 strikeouts, and 16 walks in 42 innings over his first eight starts of the season prior to his demotion.
Right-hander Ian Kennedy gave up consecutive home runs to left fielder Brennan Boesch and second baseman Carlos Guillen in the seventh inning as the D-backs lost their fifth straight road series. Kennedy retired 13 straight batters and had not allowed a hit since the second inning before first baseman Miguel Cabrera led off the seventh with a single. Boesch and Guillen followed with their homers, the 16th and 17th given up by Kennedy this season. Center fielder Chris Young doubled in the D-backs' only run in the first inning against former teammate, righty Max Scherzer, and former D-back closer Jose Valverde recorded his second save of the series with another 1-2-3 ninth.
"I don't talk much about people reminding me of people, but he reminded me a little of Doug Drabek," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said of Kennedy. "You don't go 'ooh' and 'ahh' because he's not throwing 96 or 97 (mph), but he's got four pitches and he can use all of them for strikes. It's corny, but it is like that old saying about looking up 'pitcher' in the dictionary and seeing his picture."
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