(Sports Network) - The best performances of Dontrelle Willis' career, one which has veered sadly off course in recent years, came during his days in the National League. The struggling left-hander now gets an opportunity to resurrect his fallen-star status when he makes his debut for the also-slumping Arizona Diamondbacks in tonight's NL West clash with the Colorado Rockies from Chase Field.
Willis burst onto the scene with a dazzling display with the Florida Marlins in 2003, winning 14 games and earning the NL's Rookie of the Year Award while helping the Fish capture a World Series title. He led the Senior Circuit with 22 victories two years later, and compiled a 68-54 record in five seasons with the Marlins before being shipped to Detroit as part of a blockbuster eight- player trade prior to the 2008 campaign.
The now 28-year-old couldn't match his considerable success while with the American League's Tigers, winning just two times while batting both control problems and an anxiety disorder over a disastrous three-year tenure that came to an end with Tuesday's trade to the Diamondbacks for pitcher Billy Buckner. At the time of the deal, Willis had posted a 1-2 record with a 4.98 ERA in nine games (eight starts) this season and walked a troubling 29 batters in 43 1/3 innings.
The two-time All-Star, who owns a 3-1 record with a 3.58 ERA over five lifetime starts against Colorado, is welcoming a chance to start anew in Arizona.
"Sometimes for an athlete it's definitely rejuvenating that someone else wants you and believes in you," Willis told the Diamondbacks' official site following the trade. "I was very excited. It's an opportunity for a fresh start with a team that plays a style very similar to the Marlins."
In his final start with the Tigers, Willis allowed three runs on nine hits and walked four over 5 1/3 shaky innings in a May 28 no-decision versus Oakland.
The Diamondbacks could certainly use a boost from their new addition, as the club having recently suffered a season-high 10-game losing streak that included a trio of losses to the Rockies at Coors Field from May 25-27. Arizona was finally able to put an end to that skid in last night's opener of this three-game set, rallying for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to come through with a much-needed 7-6 triumph.
Down 6-5 entering their half of the ninth, the Diamondbacks put two men aboard off Rockies closer Manny Corpas with one out and tied the game on Gerardo Parra's single to left. Ryan Roberts then delivered a pinch-hit single to score Chris Young from second with the winning tally.
It was a good fight," said Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch afterward. "It was needed. That was a perfect way to end the slide."
Arizona trailed by a 6-3 count after 5 1/3 innings but closed the gap on a Young solo homer in the sixth and Mark Reynolds' sacrifice fly one inning later.
Young went 2-for-5 with two runs scored on the night, while Justin Upton belted a two-run homer and also collected a pair of hits for Arizona. Reynolds knocked in a pair of runs as well before exiting late due to quadriceps injury that has bothered him for much of the past week.
Ian Stewart had a three-run homer for Colorado, which has dropped two in a row following a two-game win streak, with Seth Smith adding a two-run shot and Carlos Gonzalez a solo blast in a losing cause.
The setback was only the fourth for the Rockies in their past 14 encounters with Arizona. Colorado has prevailed in four of the first seven meetings between these NL West foes so far this season.
The Rockies will turn to Jhoulys Chacin, with the promising rookie setting his sights on a second win over the Diamondbacks in less than two weeks, in hopes of rebounding tonight. The 22-year-old held Arizona to a pair of runs and four hits over six sharp innings in a 3-2 Colorado triumph at Coors Field on May 25. Chacin wasn't as effective against the Los Angeles Dodgers this past Sunday, surrendering four runs and seven hits through 5 1/3 innings in a 4-3 home loss.
The hard-throwing right-hander is 3-3 with a 3.72 ERA in six starts since joining the Rockies rotation in early May. His best work has come on the road, where Chacin has gone 2-1 in three mound trips and yielded only three runs and 12 hits over a total of 20 innings.