Arizona Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy got no run support in his so-so return to the mound, after more than two months on the disabled list, taking the loss to the Boston Red Sox, 4-0 on Sunday.
Despite striking out five in his 4.1 innings pitched on the day, McCarthy hit a wall in the Red Sox's fifth inning, loading the bases and ultimately allowing two runs -- both earned -- to score. McCarthy walked three, giving up five hits in the loss.
The 30-year-old pitcher needed 97 pitches to get his 13 outs, with many of them coming in the fifth, when McCarthy gave up four hits.
Offensively, the Diamondbacks managed eight hits -- just one less than their opponent -- but failed to score a run, leaving three runners in scoring position. All of the team's hits were singles and they failed to earn a walk during the contest.
Both Martin Prado and Cody Ross --†manager Kirk Gibson's four and five hitters --†recorded multi-hit games, while Aaron Hill, Gerardo Parra and Didi Gregorius went hitless.
Josh Collmeneter gave the Red Sox their other two runs on the day, getting into trouble in the sixth inning. In the inning, Parra, who was playing right field, made his second misplay of the day, losing a flyball in the Boston sun, which ultimately allowed a run to score. The play was ruled a hit and RBI, unlike Parra's similar first-inning gaffe, which came on a sharp line drive off the bat of Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.
In the seventh inning, Parra again battled the sun to make a routine catch in shallow right field, warranting sarcastic cheers from Red Sox fans.
Collmenter's Parra-aided struggles aside, the Diamondbacks bullpen again performed exceptionally well, holding Red Sox batters hitless in a committee of Will Harris, Joe Thatcher and Heath Bell.
Former Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew went 2-for-3 on Sunday, scoring two of the Red Sox's four runs.
The Diamondbacks early-season bullpen struggles could be behind them for good.
Since July 11, relief pitchers Heath Bell, Will Harris, J.J. Putz, Joe Thatcher and Brad Ziegler have combined to toss 32.2 innings, allowing just two earned runs, 24 hits and nine walks, while striking out three. That's good for a 0.55 ERA, a 0.734 WHIP and a 9.09 K/9 rate.
The Diamondbacks have a -2 run differential in the months of July and August. They stand 5.5 games back from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West and they are just one game above .500 on the season, at 56-55.
-Left-handed pitcher Tony Sipp was designated for assignment prior to Sunday's game, with the Diamondbacks activating Brandon McCarthy in a corresponding move.
The Diamondbacks wrapped up their six-game, three-stop road trip going 2-6 and they now return to Chase Field for a nine-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles. On Tuesday, Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley (8-8, 3.68) will face Rays righty Jeremy Hellickson (10-4, 4.60).