PHOENIX (AP) — Ever since A.J. Burnett found out he had a hernia, he's been at his best.
Burnett gave Philadelphia a great finish to a good road trip, allowing five hits in eight sharp innings for his first win of the season, 2-0 over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Burnett has an 0.83 ERA in his three outings since he found out he had an inguinal hernia and decided he would forego surgery until the end of the season.
"He said that's keeping him humble," catcher Wil Nieves said. "Instead of trying to throw hard, he's throwing nice and easy."
"Hopefully, he'll have the hernia all year," he kidded.
Nieves, the backup to regular catcher Carlos Ruiz, also was Burnett's catcher two starts earlier when he gave up three hits in seven scoreless innings against Atlanta. That's 15 straight scoreless innings for the pairing.
"Man, he's fun to throw to," Burnett said. "He has that energy about him that fires you up and locks you in."
Burnett (1-1) struck out seven with no walks and hit a batter.
"When I got behind, I was able to make the pitch, whether it was a sinker or a curve ball," he said. "I mixed in one changeup today. ... When I'm on, I'm a two-pitch pitcher."
Burnett has long since deserved a win. He allowed eight runs in his one bad start, five combined in the other five.
"A.J. just doesn't get flustered with any men on base or anything," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said, "just pitches and battles and competes, maybe takes it up a notch, makes quality pitches."
After beginning its 10-game trip with two messy losses in Colorado, Philadelphia won six of eight to return home a game above .500 (13-12).
"A good 'W,'" Burnett said, "a happy flight."
Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his eighth save and second in as many games, closing out Saturday night's 6-5 victory, a game that the Phillies won after trailing 5-0.
On Sunday, chase Utley hit an RBI single in the first, then doubled and scored in the sixth while raising his batting average to .360. The Phillies took two of three from Arizona.
Brandon McCarthy (0-5) struck out a career-high 12 in seven innings. He gave up both runs and seven hits.
"He threw a heck of a game," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "It was his best game this year by far."