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Braves drop another one

D-Backs pitch a 4-0 shutout

ATLANTA - Brandon Webb isn't one of those guys who claims ignorance about his stats. He knows as well as anyone just how long he's gone without giving up a run, and what he needs to do to reach an amazing milestone.

Well, here's the latest update: He's two shutouts away from Orel Hershiser.

Webb tossed a two-hitter for his third straight shutout and stretched his scoreless streak to 42 innings _ the 12th-longest in baseball history - to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks past the Atlanta Braves 4-0 on Friday night.

He's 18 innings away - two more shutouts - from breaking Hershiser's record of 59 straight scoreless innings in 1988.

"Just two more shutouts? Oh, I should have that no problem," Webb said facetiously, rolling his eyes. "It's in the back pocket."

Actually, last year's NL Cy Young winner believes it's a little early to start eyeing Hershiser, though Webb is fully aware of his amazing run each time he goes to the mound.

"It's still a ways off," he said. "It's going to be real tough to do. I'm just going to go out there and try to throw up zeros as much as I can."

Webb (13-8) became the first pitcher since Hershiser to go at least 40 innings without giving up a run and just the 21st pitcher in baseball history to reach that level of stinginess.

It's not like the Diamondbacks are scoring a lot of runs for Webb, either. His previous start was a five-hit, 1-0 win over Washington, and he was clinging to another 1-0 lead when Mark Reynolds gave Arizona some breathing room with a mammoth two-run homer off Lance Cormier in the eighth.

"We couldn't hit Webb," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "I guess nobody can hit Webb. He's that good."

Chris Young had his second two-homer game of the week. He went deep leading off the third against Atlanta starter Lance Cormier (0-3), then added his 24th homer of the season off Tyler Yates in the ninth.

Young had more fun watching Webb from center field. The right-hander got ahead in the count on 21 of 29 hitters, and went to three balls only twice.

"He controls the game more than anyone I've ever seen," Young said. "When you're out there, you can see the way his ball moves."

Webb started his streak nearly a month ago. He didn't allow a run in the final inning of his July 20 start against the Chicago Cubs, a 6-2 loss. He's won five in a row since then, going seven innings apiece in wins over Florida and San Diego before beginning his stretch of shutouts with a 3-0 win at the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Hershiser was with the Dodgers when he set the record. The only pitchers since 1940 to have a longer streak than Webb are Don Drysdale (58), Bob Gibson (47) and Sal Maglie (45).

"That's probably the best stuff he's had all year," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "To go through that lineup is unbelievable. I really don't know what to say about it."

Webb is now tied with Rube Foster for the 12th-longest streak.

"It's a little weird," Webb said. "When I do give up a run, I'm sure I will be a little down. It's going to happen sometime."

The Braves didn't come close to scoring. Webb retired the first 10 hitters before Kelly Johnson broke through, blooping a double to center with one out in the fourth. But Chipper Jones struck out swinging and Mark Teixeira flied out to center.

Webb faced only two over the minimum. Jeff Francoeur had a one-out single in the fifth, but Andruw Jones followed with an inning-ending double play. Teixeira walked in the seventh to account for the only other Atlanta baserunner.

"He threw what he wanted when he wanted," Francoeur said. "All night he was a step ahead of us."

In what looked like a huge mismatch, Atlanta countered with Cormier, who's spent most of the season in the minors or on the disabled list. He had made three starts for the Braves, never lasting more than four innings, and came into the game with a 13.50 ERA.

But Cormier matched Webb nearly pitch for pitch until the eighth. Conor Jackson singled to center with one out, and Reynolds followed with his 11th homer of the year, driving a 3-1 pitch onto the concourse beyond the center-field seats.

The drive was estimated at 453 feet - the sixth-longest homer in Turner Field history.

Cormier went 7 1-3 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs.

Webb got a bit of a scare in the ninth. Not wanting to walk speedy Willie Harris, he left a pitch over the plate and watched it sail toward deep right.

"I was like, 'Just go right after him. I don't THINK he can hit one out.' And, boom, he got a good piece on it," Webb said. "Luckily, there was the humidity and it's a fairly deep park."

Justin Upton settled under the long fly, a few feet short of the warning track.

"Things are just going my way," Webb said.

Notes: Former Braves OF David Justice stopped by the Braves clubhouse after being inducted into the team's Hall of Fame. Justice visited with manager Bobby Cox and agreed to sign some balls for pitchers Buddy Carlyle and Peter Moylan. "I feel like a big kid," Moylan said. ... Young had two homers in Tuesday's game at Florida. This was his fourth multihomer game of the season. ... The last pitcher to throw three straight complete games: Roger Clemens with Toronto in 1998.

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