|Yusmeiro Petit: Out of nowhere, he pitches a gem against the world champs.|
Turns out all the Arizona Diamondbacks needed Wednesday night to top the slugging Philadelphia Phillies was Justin Upton's two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. The D-Backs, who had dropped the first two games of their three-game series with the defending world champs, proceeded to shut 'em down behind stellar pitching performances by Yusmeiro Petit, Juan Gutierrez, Jon Rauch, and Chad Qualls. J-Up drove in another run later in the ballgame, and Chris Snyder, in his first game back from the disabled list, launched a solo homer, and that was that: Diamondbacks 4, Phillies 0.
On paper, all signs pointed toward disaster for A.J. Hinch's underachieving crew. First, you had Petit, who entered the game with an earned-run average over 7.00. Second, you had J.A. Happ, the Phillies' starting pitcher, a young left-hander with an ERA well under 3.00 and a 7-1 record. Third, the Phillies boast the best overall lineup in the majors: two table-setting guys possessing both speed and power at the top of the lineup (Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino) followed by the deadly foursome of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibañez, and Jayson Werth, each of whom already has more than 20 homers on the year.
But except for giving up a single to lead off the game, Petit kept Rollins and Victorino off base. And he kept those other Phillies sluggers at bay, giving up only a harmless single to Ibañez to lead off the second inning and a single and double to Howard and Ibañez in the seventh inning. That's when Gutierrez came into the game to expertly extinguish the rally. It was, perhaps, Gutierrez's finest performance of the season. As for Petit, it was easily his finest outing of the year. His performance seemed to come out of nowhere. The young righty is essentially filling in for ace Brandon Webb but had yet to pitch into the seventh inning this season and had yet to give up fewer than three runs in any of his nine starts. With Webb out for, perhaps, the rest of the season, the D-Backs and their fans must feel encouraged about Petit's performance on Wednesday.