De La Rosa makes best start for D-backs

De La Rosa makes best start for D-backs

PHOENIX -- D-backs right-hander Rubby De La Rosa has a live arm. There's no disputing that. The goal for the 26-year-old is to consistently put the ball in the strike zone and therein lies the problem. It doesn't happen very often.

But De La Rosa did just that on Saturday night at Chase Field as he battled wits and pitches with veteran Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett. Both starters allowed only a run in seven innings of a game the Bucs ultimately won, 2-1.

De La Rosa allowed only four hits and Burnett five. But the milestone for De La Rosa was that he walked none and struck out eight. It was the first time since last May 31 when he was with the Red Sox that De La Rosa pitched as many as seven innings without walking a batter. He also allowed only four hits and whiffed eight that day in defeating the Rays, 7-1.

Now the challenge is to do it again when he pitches in five days.

"I'm going to try to," De La Rosa said after the game. "I'd like to take what I did tonight and do it in the rest of my starts. I just want to get more confidence by throwing strikes."

Asked if he thought this was one of the best starts of his short 31-start career (12-17 overall, 2-1 this season) over five seasons, De La Rosa added:

"I feel that way, but I think I can't say, 'Yes,' because I'm not done with my career yet. For right now, though, yeah."

The D-backs obtained De La Rosa from the Red Sox this past Dec. 12 in the trade that sent Wade Miley to Boston. He came into Spring Training as one of a number of starters trying to earn a spot in the rotation and even though at one point he walked 10 batters in his first 12 innings, De La Rosa won the second slot behind Josh Collmenter.

Dave Stewart, the first-year general manager and a right-hander who won at least 20-games four years in a row for the A's from 1987 to 1990, likes De La Rosa's 95 mph fastball and his strong arm.

Stewart may yet prove to be correct. This was certainly the best of De La Rosa's four starts for the D-backs. Coming in he had allowed 12 earned runs on 23 hits with five walks and 17 strikeouts. He had been erratic at best and then came the big outing on Saturday.

"He threw well, he did a nice job," first-year D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "That's what we expected when we traded for him and he's starting to get there. He threw all his pitches for strikes. Maybe he made one mistake to [Pedro] Alvarez on the [fourth-inning] double.

"But he was beautiful. He gave us a chance to win."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.