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Brandon McCarthy still winless as D-backs’ bullpen falters again

Brandon McCarthy will wake up winless on Thursday morning, the second of May.

In his first six starts with the Diamondbacks, the right-hander has compiled a 7.22 ERA, three losses, and a metric ton worth of frustration — something that was compounded on Wednesday, when his bullpen blew their tenth save of the season and their third in as many games.

Though McCarthy’s outing was far from good, as he gave up eight hits and four earned runs over six innings, he exited the game with a two-run lead, his offense plating six runs on 12 hits. Embattled and unhinged in his previous five starts, Wednesday was the first time since his first start on April 3 that McCarthy had left a game in line for a win.

But it wasn’t meant to be, not with the more-embattled, much-less-hinged bullpen that was trusted to finish things off for him.

Here McCarthy’s team was, geared to remain perfect in series finales at 9-0, poised to take a game lead over the Giants in the NL West, in position to salvage something positive from an otherwise miserable series. Reeling from back-to-back blown saves and thought to be overworked by their manager, the Diamondbacks bullpen had given up four runs in the eighth and ninth innings of the previous two nights.

So, in the eighth inning, Kirk Gibson looked to a guy who hadn’t made an appearance since Saturday, David Hernandez. He was refreshed; in April, the only relievers who had pitched less than him were Heath Bell and Tony Sipp.

No matter, the two-run cushion McCarthy left for the final three innings of the game was not enough. After walking two, Hernandez surrendered a three-run home run and the lead to Diamondbacks killer Brandon Belt. The following inning, Bell, who was working on two days’ rest, walked two runners, both of whom would later score, giving Giants‘ closer Sergio Romo a 9-6 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. He had no such issues.

“It’s nice that we’re scoring runs,” McCarthy said after Wednesday’s game. “And as the game goes on, it would be nice to reward all those innings with shutdown innings, to not let things kind of snowball on the back end of games.”

Snowballing is the story right now. And it’s becoming one hell of a snowball, bolstered by 10 blown saves in just 28 games. But underneath it — perhaps hidden by it — the Diamondbacks’ prime pitching acquisition is without a win, marred by a 7.22 ERA.

The Diamondbacks have the day off on Thursday and they’ll face the Padres at Petco Park over the weekend.