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Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 1

By counting on Webb, Arizona gets the jump

PHOENIX - Brandon Webb won the duel in the desert.

Webb shut down the Chicago Cubs with his superb sinker, and the young Arizona Diamondbacks got home runs from two of their kids in a 3-1 victory last night in their National League Division Series opener.

Stephen Drew homered in the fourth off Chicago ace Carlos Zambrano, pulled after six innings and only 85 pitches.

Right after he left, Mark Reynolds homered on the fourth pitch from reliever Carlos Marmol to break a 1-1 tie. Pinch hitter Conor Jackson added a sacrifice fly, and the Diamondbacks got two scoreless innings from their strong bullpen.

Webb, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, allowed four hits and struck out nine over seven outstanding innings in his postseason debut. He walked three and hit a batter.

"The most exciting game so far," Webb said. "I was able to keep them off balance. I had pretty good stuff tonight, great offspeed. Had some great strikeouts, key situations."

The Cubs, in search of their first World Series championship in 99 years, twice got the leadoff batter to second with no outs early in the game but came away empty.

Game 2 is tonight, with Ted Lilly on the mound for Chicago against Doug Davis.

Zambrano gave up four hits, struck out eight, and walked one before he was lifted by manager Lou Piniella in a questionable move.

"He probably could have gone another inning. We're bringing him back Sunday on three days' rest," Piniella said. "I took a shot with my bullpen. It didn't work today. They've done it all year."

Not this time. Planning for Game 4 might have cost the Cubs in Game 1.

With Zambrano gone, the Diamondbacks went ahead in the seventh. Reynolds hit Marmol's 2-1 pitch just over the left-field fence for a 2-1 lead. Chris Snyder walked and went to third on Augie Ojeda's single before Jackson came through while batting for Webb.

Marmol had allowed only two runs in 25 innings after Aug. 10 for a 0.72 ERA.

Arizona setup man Brandon Lyon threw a perfect eighth, and closer Jose Valverde earned the save.

Valverde, the NL saves leader with 47 in 54 opportunities this year, walked pinch hitter Daryle Ward with two outs to bring up Alfonso Soriano, but Soriano bounced into a game-ending force out that capped an 0-for-5 night.

The Diamondbacks, the first team since the 1906 White Sox to have their league's best record and worst batting average, won in a fashion typical of their 90-win season - with timely hits, good defense, and terrific pitching.

Only three of the Diamondbacks' starters had faced Zambrano, and Drew was not among them. His first time up he struck out looking, but he put Arizona ahead with a 432-foot drive over the pool in right-center.

Sandwiched around the big hit were two defensive gems by Drew at shortstop. He made a backhand stop of Geovany Soto's grounder to end the third, then he robbed Zambrano of an RBI with a leaping grab of a line drive in the fifth.

After threatening twice, Chicago finally got to Webb in the sixth. Derrek Lee led off with a single, then consecutive two-out walks to Mark DeRosa and Soto loaded the bases.

Ryan Theriot bounced one high over the head of the third baseman Reynolds. Drew fielded the ball but had no play and it was tied at 1.

Webb struck out Zambrano swinging to end the inning.

Zambrano, one of the game's best-hitting pitchers, doubled to left-center to start the third, but Webb fanned the top three hitters in the Cubs' batting order - Soriano, Jacque Jones, and Lee.

Leading off the fifth, Theriot reached second when Reynolds's throw sailed over the head of first baseman Tony Clark for an error. But Drew's leaping stab robbed Zambrano, then Soriano lined out to center. Clark made a diving stop of Jones's grounder, then tossed to Webb covering first and Chicago remained scoreless.

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