CLEVELAND - The Diamondbacks could not take advantage of Brandon Webb’s first complete game of the season, did not get a hit with a runner in scoring position after the first inning and lost for the 12th time in 17 games in June Saturday.
It might bother them more if they had not actually gained a half-game in the NL West standings during the month, even after they fell to Cleveland, 3-1, before 28,306 at Jacobs Field while San Diego broke a five-game losing streak with a victory in Minnesota.
"We know it’s a long year. We understand there are going to be stretches where the ball is not going to bounce your way, and there are going to be stretches when the ball does,’’ Tony Clark said.
"A couple of teams in our division have gone through a hot streak. We hope to get on that soon.’’
Clark’s two-out single in the first inning drove in the DBacks’ only run as they lost their third in a row on the road trip after winning the first two games in Chicago.
The D-Backs had scored 30 runs in their last four games and 45 in their last eight, homering in each, but had only one extra-base hit against Cleveland starter Scott Elarton and three relievers.
After Brad Halsey beat the New York Mets on May 31, the D-Backs were three games behind San Diego.
They will enter the final game of the Cleveland series 2 1 /2 back, before finishing the 10-game trip with a four-game series against San Francisco.
"First off, you have to right your own ship, then you can pay attention to that stuff,’’ DBacks manager Bob Melvin said. "It’s good that we haven’t (lost any ground), but we have to start playing better as a group.
"We won the first two games in Chicago, and I really thought we had a chance to build on that. Since then, we haven’t done very well.’’
Cleveland’s Travis Hafner hit a bases-empty homer off Webb (7-3) to tie the game in the second inning, and Cleveland scored two runs in the fifth while winning its eighth straight.
After Casey Blake beat out a bunt single to open the inning and Jhonny Peralta walked with one out, Grady Sizemore doubled to right to break the tie and Coco Crisp’s groundout drove in another run.
Webb did not allow another hit, retiring the final two batters after a two-out walk in the fifth, while striking out six and walking three. It was his third career complete game; all have come in interleague play, the first two against Detroit.
"You can’t ask for any more than Brandon gave us today. He was great,’’ Melvin said. "Sometimes it seems like when you get a good pitching effort, it ends up being on both sides of it.’’
"I tried to get ahead early on Hafner and he is a pretty aggressive hitter, so he jumped all over that first pitch and hit it out,’’ Webb said.
"Later, as the game went on, I felt a little bit more comfortable and was a little bit more aggressive. I just got outpitched tonight. They have a lot of things going their way. That’s one good thing. We haven’t been playing as well as we could and we’re still right there.’’
The D-Backs, who had eight hits, had their best late chance when Luis Gonzalez singled to center off Arthur Rhodes to lead off the eighth inning and Clark lined a one-out single to left.
But Rhodes struck out Shawn Green on a breaking ball and got Jose Cruz to ground into a force-out before Bob Wickman got his 19th save with a 1-2-3 ninth, finishing the Cleveland bullpen’s 2 2 /3 scoreless innings. Cleveland relievers lead the major leagues with a 2.51 ERA.
"They’ve been winning for a reason, and the bullpen has been a big part of it,’’ Melvin said.