PHOENIX (AP) Brian Anderson saved his best for last.
The left-hander, who is losing his spot in Arizona's starting rotation with the return this week of Todd Stottlemyre, threw a three-hitter Tuesday night as the Diamondbacks beat the Chicago Cubs again 4-0. It was his second career shutout.
"That's the best I've ever seen him," Arizona manager Buck Showalter said.
"I think we all in this clubhouse know what he's meant to us in Stott's absence," Showalter said. "The way he's pitched is a big part of the reason we're here now. It seems like Brian's always been there for us to give us what we need."
Greg Colbrunn's bases-loaded triple in the first inning gave Anderson all the offense he needed.
The Diamondbacks beat the Cubs for the sixth time in a row and fifth time in the nine days to open their biggest lead yet over second-place San Francisco in the NL West 8 1/2 games.
Arizona, which has won eight of its last 10, got its third consecutive strong starting pitching performance. Omar Daal threw a 4-0 shutout against Milwaukee on Sunday and Randy Johnson struck out 11 in eight innings in a 10-3 victory over Chicago on Monday.
Anderson (5-2), in his fourth career complete game but first this season, struck out five and didn't walk a batter. He allowed only a second-inning double by pitcher Andrew Lorraine, a seventh-inning single by Sammy Sosa and a controversial ground-rule double by Benito Santiago in the ninth.
Anderson, who left the game in Chicago a week ago in the second inning when he was hit in the left elbow with a line drive, said he was just happy to be pitching pain-free after the near-injury. He said he worked on lowering his delivery to almost a submarine style to get out left-handed batters, a problem for him this season.
"I knew going into today, it was probably going to be my last start, barring any unforeseen things," Anderson said. "I also knew throwing a great game probably wasn't going to matter. I just went out and tried to help us win, and I'll take this to the pen."
Santiago nearly spoiled the shutout with a deep drive to left. A gray-haired woman in the stands beyond the fence reached over the wall and caught the ball with her glove. Second-base umpire Joe West ruled fan interference.
"Hats off to the old ladies," Anderson said, then he added a line from the movie "Dumb and Dumber." "See, old people can be useful."
Anderson retired the first 10 he faced and, after Lorraine's double, retired the next 10 before Sosa's single.
The left-hander will lose his spot in the rotation Friday when Stottlemyre comes off the disabled list. Anderson was a starter last year but relegated to the bullpen with Arizona's off-season acquisitions of Johnson, Stottlemyre and Armando Reynoso.
Anderson said he knows he's headed back to the bullpen.
"The way I was raised, in a small town, I understand the concept of team," he said. "I know that I'm one part of the team. Whether I'm starting, relieving, doing whatever, they'll get my best effort every time. I want to start. That's what I've done my whole career. They know that. But at the same time, if they want me to go down to the bullpen, `Yes sir,' and I'm down in the bullpen."
Arizona scored all four runs in the first inning off Lorraine (1-1), making his third start, second against the Diamondbacks, since being called up from Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 6. Going into the game, Lorraine allowed only two earned runs in 16 innings.
Lorraine settled down after the first-inning uprising, but it didn't matter.
"It's pretty obvious, he outpitched me today," Lorraine said of Anderson. "The first inning was big today. It's not my thing to go out there and walk guys like that."
With one out in the first, Jay Bell walked, Luis Gonzalez singled and Matt Williams> walked to load the bases. Colbrunn hit a triple into the right-field corner to drive in three runs.
Bernard Gilkey brought Colbrunn home with a sacrifice fly to center, with the runner barely evading catcher Santiago's tag at the plate.
The Cubs have lost nine of 10.
"The club is obviously beaten down with this many losses," manager Jim Riggleman said. "But they go out and do their jobs. Talk in the dugout is nothing but positive."
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