Walker limits damage in loss to Bucs

Righty pleased with game plan, increases use of curve

Walker limits damage in loss to Bucs

PHOENIX -- Asked to evaluate his outing Saturday night in a 4-3 loss to the Pirates, D-backs right-hander Taijuan Walker got right to the point.

"Four runs. I've got to keep it closer and give us a better chance to win that ballgame," Walker said. "I've got to have quicker innings and cleaner innings. The first four innings, there was someone on, especially in scoring position, and when that happens, you throw stressful pitches and you have to work harder."

Indeed, it seemed like Walker (3-3) was constantly in trouble during his outing, though to his credit he did limit the damage, holding the Pirates to just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

Walker allowed the four runs, only three of which were earned, on eight hits over six innings.

"I thought Taijuan threw the ball really well," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "Better than his linescore indicated. I thought he did enough to win a game."

Walker used his curveball more than usual, throwing 21 of them in his 108 total pitches. Per Statcast™, the 19.4 percent curveball usage was a season high for him and quite a change from his last two starts, when he threw 12 combined.

"We just threw some sliders and curveballs today, and it worked," Walker said. "There were just a couple that I hung and they got hit, but for the most part, we executed the plan and got a lot of ground balls and a lot of ground-ball outs. Just two balls that got hit."

One of those was a hanging breaking ball that Andrew McCutchen lined to left for an RBI double in the fifth, and another was one that David Freese lined back up the middle off Walker's left shin.

Walker gets hit by comebacker

"I think there was a good mixture of pitches," Lovullo said. "I think they followed a good game plan. There was an assortment of things that were working, and there were some areas we were trying to exploit some areas. There were a couple of mistakes that Taijuan made that he paid for."

Lovullo went to the mound after Walker was hit to make sure he was OK, but it was a short discussion.

"He was fine," Lovullo said with a smile. "You can tell when you go out there and they give you the look of death, like 'Don't make me throw a ball because I'm fine.' So, we trusted him that he was fine. It was a nonfactor."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.