PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks wasted Brandon McCarthy’s best start of the year.
A misjudged fly ball and a throwing error accounted for the only runs in Arizona’s 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.
McCarthy struck out a career-high 12 with one walk, allowing seven hits.
“He threw a heck of a game,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “It was his best game of the year by far.”
It was the fourth straight strong outing by an Arizona starter for a rotation that was horrible in the early stages of the season.
“It is big for me,” McCarthy said. “I want to stop giving up runs. That is goal one, but I also think it is good to keep the row of good starts coming from the starters.
“We are trying to do as much as we can to hold up our end of the bargain and keep pitching well.”
Still, the Diamondbacks are 2-11 at Chase Field and 12 games under .500 overall.
“We just need to get synced up and play a total game,” Gibson said. “We haven’t been able to do that.”
A.J. Burnett gave Philadelphia a great finish to a good road trip, allowing five hits in eight sharp innings.
Burnett has an 0.83 ERA in his three outings since he found out he had an inguinal hernia and decided he would forego surgery until the end of the season.
“He said that’s keeping him humble,” catcher Wil Nieves said. “Instead of trying to throw hard, he’s throwing nice and easy.”
“Hopefully, he’ll have the hernia all year,” he kidded.
Nieves, the backup to regular catcher Carlos Ruiz, also was Burnett’s catcher two starts earlier when he gave up three hits in seven scoreless innings against Atlanta. That’s 15 straight scoreless innings for the pair.
“Man, he’s fun to throw to,” Burnett said. “He has that energy about him that fires you up and locks you in.”
Burnett (1-1) struck out seven with no walks and hit a batter.
After beginning its 10-game trip with two messy losses in Colorado, Philadelphia won six of eight to return home a game above .500 (13-12).
“A good ‘W,'” Burnett said, “a happy flight.”
Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his eighth save and second in as many games, closing out Saturday night’s 6-5 victory, a game that the Phillies won after trailing 5-0.
On Sunday, Ben Revere opened the game with a single, stole second and scored when Utley’s fly ball fell between left fielder Cody Ross and center fielder A.J. Pollock for a single.
Gibson said Ross got a bad break on the ball, thinking it was going deeper.
McCarthy shut the Phillies down the next four innings. In the sixth, Utley led off with a double and scored when shortstop Chris Owings made a nice stop on Marlon Byrd’s grounder but threw wildly to third.
Gibson said third baseman Martin Prado didn’t get to the bag. Owings took the blame for a throw that hit Utley.
“Just throw the ball a couple of inches to the right and we got him,” Owings said.
The Diamondbacks had their chances.
Pollock and Owings opened the fourth with singles, but McCarthy bunted into a force play. Prado bounced into a double play that ended the inning.
In the fourth, Burnett struck out the first two batters before hitting Miguel Montero in the left foot. Montero made it to third on Aaron Hill’s single but first baseman Ryan Howard caught Ross’ sharp grounder to end the threat.
With one out in the third, Owings tripled over the head of Byrd. Burnett helped himself by snagging McCarthy’s sharp grounder, and Gerardo Parra flied out.
Parra doubled with two outs in the eighth but Prado grounded out.
Right after entering the game in the ninth, third baseman Freddy Galvis made a diving stop and threw out Paul Goldschmidt from his knees.
NOTES: The Phillies’ Cody Asche struck out four times. … McCarthy’s previous career best was 10 strikeouts, accomplished three times. … Ruiz had the day off after hitting .393 on the trip with seven RBIs in eight games. … Owings made a diving stab of Utley’s line drive to start the fourth inning. … Arizona’s homestand continues with a three-game series against Colorado, Wade Miley (2-2, 4.50) pitches for the Diamondbacks vs. Franklin Morales (2-1, 3.86) Monday. … Goldschmidt was 0 for 4 in the game, 1 for 11 in the series.