For Sunday’s drive to work, Bob Brenly tried a different vehicle, different driver and different route.
The Diamondbacks’ manager rode shotgun as his son, Michael, drove his truck to Bank One Ballpark, using 15th Street to get there.
“We picked that because I wear No. 15,” Brenly said.
Whether the result of karma or not, the proceedings at BOB made the skipper’s drive home — and the ensuing three days off — much more enjoyable. Arizona goes into the All-Star break on a high note and after avoiding a sweep by the rival San Francisco Giants with a 7-4 comeback victory.
“I’m sure in their clubhouse, they are going to say they did what they needed to do (win two of three) in this series,” Brenly said. “In the grand scheme of things, that’s true, but we did what we had to do (Sunday).”
After a tumultuous first half that saw them riddled by injures and 10 1/2 games behind at one point, the D-Backs go into the All-Star break five games back of the first-place Giants.
“Over the next three days, we’ll step back and look at the big picture,” said infielder Craig Counsell, who was out two months with a right thumb dislocation that required surgery. “And I think that we should be happy where we’re at. We’re looking forward to a big second half.”
Said Luis Gonzalez, the lone Arizona player at Tuesday’s All-Star game in Chicago, “I’m sure I’ll be looking for Bobby Valentine.”
In early June, after Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling were added to the list of D-Backs befallen by injuries, Valentine — the former New York Mets manager turned ESPN analyst — said on the air that the team was “done.”
“I want to tell him thanks for motivating us,” Gonzalez said.
For Arizona, Sunday’s game was a microcosm of the season thus far.
The D-Backs got down big in a hurry, as San Francisco scored four first-inning runs against rookie right-hander Brandon Wood — who entered the game with a 2.18 ERA, tops in the National League.
However, the Giants’ lead nearly evaporated by the time Arizona finished batting in the first. And by the end of the second, the D-Backs led by three.
“It was a little bit of a strange game,” Counsell said. “We got down in each game (of the series), and we didn’t have an answer the first two games. But we did in this one.”
Much of the answer was provided by Gonzalez, who came into the contest with one hit in 27 a-bats against the Giants this season.
In the first inning, his double to left off Jim Brower brought in Arizona’s first run. After the D-Backs tied the game at 4-all and chased Brower in the second, Gonzalez stroked reliever Chad Zerbe’s first pitch into left field for an RBI single that gave Arizona the lead for good.
“People talked about the 1-for-whatever, but I didn’t think about that,” Gonzalez said. “Brenly came up to me and told me I doubled my season hitting output against the Giants in two at-bats.”
With the troublesome first inning behind him — he allowed four runs on two hits, a walk and two hit batters — Webb settled down.
His string of 13 straight quality starts (three runs or fewer allowed in six innings) ended, but Webb raised his season record to 7-2. Webb’s ERA is now 2.41, third in the league behind Los Angeles’ Kevin Brown (2.30) and San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt (2.37).
“I wasn’t making my pitches in the first inning,” Webb said. “I was getting the ball up and not hitting my spots. I lost a little confidence after the first couple of hits. But we came back, and I looked at it as a fresh game. After that first inning, I came back and shut them down.”