Published November 20, 2014
PHOENIX (AP) — Dontrelle Willis pitched six scoreless innings and scored a run in his Arizona debut on Saturday night and the Diamondbacks held on for a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
The big left-hander, acquired Tuesday from Detroit, brought some of his recent command problems with him. He walked four, hit a batter and the Rockies had a runner in scoring position against him in every inning except the first, but he escaped every jam.
Back in the National League for the first time since Florida traded him to the Tigers after the 2007 season, Willis (1-0) allowed five hits and struck out three.
Ryan Roberts, star of Friday night's come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Rockies, drove in two with a two-out, pinch-hit double in the sixth as Arizona won its second in a row after losing 10 straight. Sandwiched around an 0-9 road trip, the Diamondbacks have won six of seven at home.
Arizona tied a franchise record with its sixth straight one-run game.
The Diamondbacks can complete a three-game sweep on Sunday, but they will have to do it against Ubaldo Jimenez (10-1).
Chad Qualls pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save in 14 opportunities.
Jhoulys Chacin (3-4) struck out nine, the most in his 17 big-league appearances, eight as a starter. He held Arizona to an unearned run through five but surrendered three in the sixth, two on the double by Roberts, whose pinch-hit single in the ninth won the game for the Diamondbacks on Friday.
Chacin left after Roberts' hit in favor of Randy Flores, and Kelly Johnson doubled high off the wall in deep center to bring home Roberts and make it 4-0.
Colorado scored three in the seventh. The Rockies loaded the bases with no outs against reliever Carlos Rosa, then got sacrifice flies from Troy Tulowitzki and Brad Hawpe. Colorado loaded them again on Melvin Mora's single and a walk to Chris Iannetta.
With the crowd booing another weak Arizona bullpen effort, Aaron Heilman relieved Rosa and walked pinch hitter Seth Smith on four pitches to bring in the third run of the inning. Heilman struck out pinch hitter Ian Stewart to end the inning, then retired the side in order in the eighth.
Willis, one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball but with just three at-bats in three seasons in Detroit, singled to lead off the third. Johnson followed with what should have been a double-play bouncer to first, but Jason Giambi threw over the head of Tulowitzki covering second and both runners were safe. Willis scored from second on Stephen Drew's single to left, sliding head first and touching the plate with his pitching hand.
The Diamondbacks acquired Willis for right-hander Billy Buckner on Tuesday. The trade came two days after Detroit designated Willis for assignment. The Tigers still will pay the bulk of the $12 million the big lefty is due this season.
Willis, 28, pitched five seasons with Florida. He was rookie of the year in 2003 when he helped the Marlins win the World Series. He was 68-54 with Florida with a 3.78 ERA before going to the Tigers in an eight-player trade that also sent Miguel Cabrera to Detroit. He was 2-8 with a 6.86 ERA in his three seasons with Detroit, 1-2 (4.98) this year.
NOTES: Giambi got the start because Rockies manager Jim Tracy has given 1B Todd Helton Saturday and Sunday off. Tracy said Helton, mired in a 2-for-23 slump, will be moved down in the batting order from the No. 3 spot when he returns. ... Colorado matched its season-long losing streak of three. ... Before Willis arrived, Arizona had not had a lefty on its pitching staff all season. ... The Diamondbacks' Justin Upton fanned three times to continue to lead the majors with 76 strikeouts, two more than teammate Mart Reynolds, who struck out twice. .... Arizona matched its career high with 14 strikeouts. .... The Diamondbacks' Chris Young stole three bases, a career best.