PITTSBURGH (AP) -The Arizona Diamondbacks scratched staff ace Brandon Webb on Thursday in Pittsburgh because a poor weather forecast made manager Bob Melvin hesitant to start him in a game that might be significantly delayed.
Micah Owings (7-8), who was to have pitched Friday night at Colorado, started Thursday afternoon's game. Webb (17-10), last season's NL Cy Young Award winner, will start the first game of a series against the Rockies that is important for both teams.
The Diamondbacks had two games sliced off their NL West lead after losing Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Pittsburgh, and Melvin wanted to avoid having to take out Webb during a possible long weather delay.
``Hey, we can't lose this guy,'' Melvin said. ``If he's out there for an inning or two and we stop and we have to try to bring him back ... ``
Arizona led San Diego by one game and streaking Colorado by two going into Thursday's play. San Diego played at Milwaukee and Colorado played at Los Angeles in night games.
Melvin said he wouldn't have made the move if Owings (7-8) was hesitant about moving up a day. Owings hadn't pitched since beating San Francisco 5-0 with a two-hit shutout Sept. 18, but he gave up 11 earned runs in nine innings in two previous appearances against Pittsburgh this season - an 11.00 ERA
Webb has never lost to the Pirates, going 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in four career starts. Melvin said the decision was made Thursday, and that neither pitcher was informed earlier in the week the switch might be made.
``It just kind of developed,'' Melvin said. ``No matter what, you're not going to feel bad about Brandon Webb taking the mound. The problem is if he takes the mound for only 1 1/2, two innings and, all of a sudden, you're in jeopardy of him missing his last start of the season.''

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