PHOENIX — Rubby De La Rosa didn't earn a win Saturday night but he gained some much-needed confidence.
De La Rosa scattered four hits over seven innings and matched a career high with eight strikeouts in the Arizona Diamondbacks' 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The right-hander did not walk a batter and needed only 98 pitches to get through his outing.
"I tried to attack the zone," De La Rosa said. "Everything I did tonight, everything was under control. What I did tonight, the rest of my starts I have to do it and try to get more confident and throw more strikes."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said his hitters were ready for a fastball reaching the high 90s (mph) but were kept off balance by De La Rosa's secondary pitches.
"With his velocity he got us a little over-amped," Hurdle said. "He threw a lot of sliders, a lot of changeups."
Neil Walker was one of the few Pirates to solve De La Rosa, hitting the first of his two doubles and scoring in the fourth.
"De La Rosa had good stuff," Walker said. "He was 0-1, 1-2 against pretty much everyone all night long. When you're throwing 95, 96, 97 (mph) and can locate the changeup, it can be tough on the other side."
Arizona manager Chip Hale said this was the De La Rosa the Diamondbacks anticipated when they traded for him in the offseason.
"He did a good job. That's what we expect," Hale said. "He was beautiful and gave us a chance to win."
"I was falling behind in the count and that's never a good thing," Reed said. "I was 2-0 to Walker and threw a pitch up in the zone. To Marte it was a slider but I should have gotten it lower. I was trying, if anything, to have it start in the zone and then fall out of the zone. But it stayed in and he hit it."
Tony Watson (1-1) pitched out of trouble in the eighth to earn the win for the Pirates, who have won four straight in April for the first time since 2008.
Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his fifth save.
Watson gave up consecutive singles to start the eighth and Paul Goldschmidt followed with a soft bouncer to third for the first out, advancing the runners. But pinch-hitter Mark Trumbo fouled out and Watson whiffed Aaron Hill to escape the jam.
Pittsburgh right-hander A.J. Burnett scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four in seven innings. Burnett has allowed one run in each of his past three starts and five earned runs total over 25 innings for a 1.80 ERA.
Pennington bunted toward third base against an exaggerated shift to the right side for an easy single, but Burnett struck out De La Rosa to end the inning.
Pittsburgh tied it in the fourth. Walker doubled to right field and came home one out later when Pedro Alvarez doubled into the right-field corner.
Diamondbacks: RHP David Hernandez threw a scoreless inning and struck out one in an extended spring training game against the Brewers. LHP Patrick Corbin threw a bullpen session Friday at Chase Field. Both pitchers are working their way back from Tommy John surgery.
Hale exhausted a replay challenge with two outs in the first inning when he disputed Gregory Polanco's steal of second base. Umpires needed nearly four minutes to rule on the challenge before upholding Phil Cuzzi's call at second base. Two pitches later, De La Rosa retired Walker to strand Polanco at second.
STREAKING NO MORE
Pirates 3B Josh Harrison had hit safely in his past six games at Chase Field, going 11 for 27 for a healthy .407 batting average during that stretch. But he was hitless in four at-bats, including a pair of strikeouts.
Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler pitched a scoreless eighth inning to set a club record with 254 career appearances. Ziegler appeared in 223 games with Oakland before being shipped to Arizona at the 2011 trade deadline for two players.
Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (0-1) makes his fourth start of the season Sunday. Liriano has started twice previously against Arizona, once last season for Pittsburgh and once for the Minnesota Twins.
Diamondbacks: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-2) is coming off his first win for Arizona last Sunday against San Francisco. Hellickson has yet to face Pittsburgh but has held a trio of Pirates batters — Corey Hart, Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart — hitless in seven at-bats.