NEW YORK - Two players at the top of their games met in the first inning at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, when Brandon Webb faced Bobby Abreu. Webb had not allowed an earned run in 13 innings in June; Abreu was 19-for-38 for the month.
Had the matchup occurred at some time previous to the last two weeks, while the Yankees were struggling to stay out of the AL East basement, it might have gone the Diamondbacks’ way.
But Abreu turned this trip into a three-run home run, more than enough support for Chien-Ming Wang in the first career meeting between two of the most prolific sinker ball pitchers in the major leagues.
Abreu’s homer followed an error by second baseman Orlando Hudson and a single by Derek Jeter for a quick cushion in a 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks before 51,577 fans in a game that was delayed 59 minutes by rain, although no rain fell during it.
“That’s my game. I gave up the three runs,” said Hudson, often hypercritical of himself.
“'Webby’ pitched a great game. Who knows what happens if I catch that ball? I haven’t done too much lately.”
Johnny Damon reached safely to lead off the first when Hudson fielded his chopper near the bag at second but pulled Tony Clark off the bag with his throw.
Jeter then executed a textbook hit-and-run play when he grounded a single into left field through the hole left when shortstop Stephen Drew moved to cover second base as Damon broke on the pitch.
That brought up Abreu, whose homer on an 0-1 pitch extended his hitting streak to 11 games and his streak of consecutive plate appearances on base to nine.
“I just feel good, and I made pretty good contact,” Abreu said.
Webb threw a change-up outside to Abreu on the first pitch, and Abreu appeared to be looking for something inside with the next one.
“It caught only a couple, three inches of the plate. It was a decent pitch. It might have been up a hair,” Webb said.
“He might have been looking in. It looked like it. You can’t give them outs. You can’t give them extra at-bats.”
The D-Backs (37-28) remained in a virtual tie with San Diego in the NL West when the Padres lost at Tampa Bay.
Chad Tracy, starting at designated hitter as the D-Backs began their stretch of six interleague road games, broke up Wang’s shutout with a one-out home run in the fourth inning.
It was Tracy’s second homer of the season and the first off Wang since May 5, when Seattle’s Ben Broussard broke up Wang’s bid for a perfect game with a homer in the eighth.
Wang has given up four homers in 69 innings this season. Webb has given up only seven in 99.
“He has good stuff, no doubt about it,” Tracy said of Wang.
It was Tracy’s second start since being activated Sunday after missing almost a month with an oblique muscle injury, and he admitted he is not quite 100 percent.
“If I was 100 percent, I would expect to do a little more,” he said. “It feels good physically. I don’t know if I’m locked back in. I think I’m close.”
And now the D-Backs have an inkling of what it is like to hit against Webb.
Wang threw primarily sinking fastballs — Webb’s No. 1 pitch — although he mixed in some four-seam fastballs that touched 95 mph and also threw a few split-finger pitches as a change of pace.
“Wang throws a little bit harder (than Webb). I’m not sure if he has as much sink as Webby does,” Eric Byrnes said.
“We haven’t seen a whole lot of him. When you get another team’s No. 1 or No. 2 guy out there and you don’t see him a lot, it’s a lot tougher.”