PHILADELPHIA - Curt Schilling wanted his last start at Veterans Stadium to be his best. It may have been.
Schilling struck out 14 in a two-hit shutout Wednesday as the Diamondbacks beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-0.
Unless Schilling gets traded (don't think so!) or these two teams meet in the playoffs (OK, that's possible), he will not pitch again at the corner of Broad and Pattison — his home for 8 1/2 seasons before coming to Arizona. The Phillies move into a new stadium next year.
“I spent a lot of time here,” said Schilling, who was booed every time he came to bat. “I enjoyed being here. The fans were exactly what I expected.
“And my last start here was a win. That's how I wanted this to end.”
Schilling came to town on the heels of reports he has campaigned to be
traded back to Philadelphia and was greeted Tuesday by a headline labeling him “poison” and a columnist calling him ”a jerk.”
Typically, Schilling rose to the occasion.
“It just further cements his reputation as one of the best big game pitchers in the game,” manager Bob Brenly said.
“That's the best game I've seen him pitch,” teammate Mark Grace said. “I think that article about him fueled a fire. He had some ‘(Screw) you’ in him tonight.
“I think he had a little something to prove to us and this city — that ‘I'm still pretty good.’ ”
In the bigger picture, Arizona closed within 6 1/2 games of San Francisco in the NL West — the Diamondbacks’ smallest deficit since after the games of April 10. The D-Backs have made up 3 1/2 games in four days and are within two games of .500 for the first time since being 1-3.
With Phillies youngster and Schilling protege Brett Myers matching him nearly pitch for pitch, Schilling (3-2) was so single-minded that his head was pounding long after the game ended.
“I've never seen him this focused besides the (2001) World Series,” catcher Rod Barajas said.
“There's no room to relax in a game like this,” Schilling said. “I'm glad it's over.”
Myers — who has copied parts of Schilling's delivery — struck out six in eight innings, allowing four hits, but fell to 3-3.
As the old joke goes, Schilling may have taught Myers everything he knows, but that doesn't mean Schilling has taught Myers everything Schilling knows.
“I think he wanted to show (Myers) how it's done,” said Luis Gonzalez, who drove in Arizona's first run.
Schilling has thrown consecutive complete-game shutouts for the first time since July 1992, which was two months after the Phillies made him a full-time starter. His 14 strikeouts (all swinging) matched Montreal's Javier Vazquez for most in the majors this year.
Schilling increased his career total to 2,408, passing Sandy Koufax (2,396) and Dennis Eckersley (2,401) and closing within eight of Luis Tiant for 30th all-time.
“(Randy Johnson) three lockers over is working on 4,000,” Schilling said, “so you've got to keep it in perspective.”
Schilling threw just 31 balls in his 106 pitches and allowed one runner past first base. With his first win over Philadelphia, Schilling now has defeated every NL team.
He also singled and scored in the third inning. He was safe at the plate when Pat Burrell's throw from left field hit Alex Cintron, going first-to-third, on the left ring and middle fingers.
Two innings later, Cintron hit his first major league homer.
“The first three games I was trying to do too much,” said Cintron, who went 1-for-12 after being called up but is 5-for-9 in this series.
Schilling, though, was the story.
“When they sell parts of (Veterans Stadium) off, I'll probably be one of the people buying a couple of seats,” he said.
On Wednesday, he already had ownership of the mound.