ARLINGTON, Texas - Veteran right-hander Kevin Jarvis pitched as well as the Diamondbacks’ talent evaluators had ever seen him pitch in his final two spring training starts. His fastball touched 95 mph and he located it in the bottom of the strike zone, and he carried that stuff to Triple-A Tucson as the leader of the starting rotation.
But after irregular work in his 28 days with the D-Backs, Jarvis was not that guy Saturday, and the lack of sharpness showed in an 8-4 loss to Texas before 41,165 at Ameriquest Field.
The Rangers scored three runs on two singles, two stolen bases, a hit batter, a walk and a wild pitch in the first inning, and the D-Backs could not recover while suffering their 11th loss in 12 games.
Jarvis was making his first start for the D-Backs — and his first major league start since Sept. 12, 2003 — after having pitched only 6 1/3 innings in his previous 28 days.
“You give him a little bit of a break. He’s been pitching in a role he isn’t used to, out of the bullpen. He hadn’t been on a regular turn,’’ manager Bob Melvin said.
“It seemed like he was just off the corners. The fastball was just missing. They were getting in counts that were a little more predictable. They had a lot of good swings.’’
It is the D-Backs’ worst stretch since 2004, but since the rest of the NL West is going through the same thing they are not losing much ground.
The NL West was 23 games over .500 when the D-Backs returned from its 7-3 road trip on June 5 with a 2 1/2-game lead.
Twelve days later, the division is nine games over .500 after all five teams lost Saturday. The Dodgers remained in first place, but all teams are within two games of first place.
“First, we have to take care of our situation,’’ Melvin said of the tight division race.
“It’s not a great period we are going through, but it’s like a virus, it will pass.’’
The D-Backs have fallen behind in the first inning in nine of their last 11 games, with only three quality starts in that stretch.
They will try to avoid being swept for the third time in four series behind Enrique Gonzalez today.
Chris Snyder drove in three of the D-Backs’ four runs with a sacrifice fly in the second and a two-run double in a three-run sixth.
“We just have to keep pushing,’’ Snyder said.
“It’s tough. We’re behind all these teams after the first inning. It’s tough to play comeback. It’s one of those things where you have to come out and set the tone. Right now, the other team is setting the tone.’’
Shawn Green homered in the sixth after Rangers’ center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. took away what would have been an extra-base hit in the fourth with a leaping catch at the fence in right-center.
The D-Backs got only one hit after Snyder’s double.
“During this streak, we have had trouble coming back,’’ Melvin said.
“It seems like every game we are behind right away. It is something we are going to have to get over.’’
Texas scored all eight of its runs off Jarvis, who gave up nine hits in five innings. The Rangers scored four with two outs.
“You always try to find a rhythm. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that,’’ Jarvis said.
Jarvis is tentatively scheduled to start the final game of the road trip Thursday at Tampa Bay.
The D-Backs could turn to Dustin Nippert, who started at Triple-A Tucson on Saturday but gave up eight runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings against Colorado Springs.