Arizona Looks to Bounce Back in Washington Print
Thursday, 05 April 2007 07:02
MLB Headline News

Diamondbacks Look for Momentum

While an opening-day win didn't help the Arizona Diamondbacks build any momentum, early struggles didn't seem to hurt the Washington Nationals' confidence.

The Diamondbacks look to bounce back from consecutive losses as they face the Nationals on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.

After winning its season opener 8-6 on Monday, Arizona lost the final two games of its series in Colorado, including an 11-4 setback on Wednesday.

Oddsmakers have made Arizona -1.5 point spread favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (View MLB Sports Books). Our public betting information shows

that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on Arizona -1.5 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

One of the few bright spots for Arizona in the series was the play of outfielder Eric Byrnes, who went 7-for-14 with one home run, two doubles, four RBIs and a stolen base. After playing right field the first two games, Byrnes played center Wednesday and homered.

Edgar Gonzalez will take the mound for the Diamondbacks on Thursday. The right-hander earned the fourth spot in the rotation after going 5-0 with a 4.70 ERA in spring training.

"(He) pitched under a lot of pressure to win the job that he did, and he deserves to be pitching for us in the four spot," Arizona manager Bob Melvin told the team's Web site.

Gonzalez, 24, went 3-4 with a 4.22 ERA in five starts and six relief appearances for the Diamondbacks last season. This will be his first appearance against the Nationals.

Gonzalez will be facing a Nationals lineup that rallied for a 7-6 win over Florida on Wednesday, Washington's first victory of the season after dropping the first two games of the series. It was the first managerial win for Manny Acta, whom the players credited with keeping them from getting too low after a poor start.

"We are a generally young team, with the exception of myself and a couple of other guys," Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young said. "If you see the manager panic, the players are going to panic. He didn't panic. We didn't panic."

The Nationals lost their first two games by a combined score of 18-5, and then Wednesday trailed 5-0 and 6-1. It was 6-4 heading to the bottom of the ninth, but Young's bases-loaded single with one out off closer Jorge Julio completed the comeback.

Young emerged from a three-player competition to start at first while Nick Johnson recovers from a broken leg, and is hitting .333 with three RBIs.

"It's been a long road back for Dmitri," Washington utilityman Robert Fick said. "Everybody in this clubhouse loves him."

Nationals right-hander Jason Bergmann will match up with Gonzalez. Bergmann earned a spot in the rotation despite going 0-2 with a 5.03 ERA in 19 2-3 innings during spring training.

Bergmann went 0-2 with a 6.68 ERA in six starts and 23 relief appearances last season. He didn't receive a decision in two starts against Arizona last season, posting a 5.40 ERA over 10 innings. They were his first career appearances against the Diamondbacks.

Washington went 5-1 against Arizona in 2006.

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