PHOENIX -- When the Arizona Diamondbacks extended Brandon Webb's contract through 2009 last winter, they expected Webb to be their ace.
Webb had pitched well in his first two starts but did not earn a decision. And the Diamondbacks lost both games.
He pitched like a No. 1 starter Friday night, throwing eight strong innings to lead the Diamondbacks over Houston 5-1.
"The team obviously needed a win there as well," said Webb (1-0), who allowed one run and seven hits with three strikeouts and no walks. "That was a big win for us, to get the bullpen a little bit of rest. To get that one under my belt feels pretty good."
Webb outdueled Andy Pettitte (1-2), who gave up two earned runs in six innings.
Webb, who led the Diamondbacks with 14 victories last season, had his sinker working from the start. He retired the game's first batter, Craig Biggio, on a bouncer to the mound, and set down 16 batters on groundouts.
"I was pretty consistent with it, keeping it down," Webb said.
Webb allowed seven hits in the first four innings. But he bore down after Adam Everett's run-scoring double in the fourth, retiring his last 13 batters.
"He worked ahead, threw a lot of strikes," said Houston's Jason Lane, who had two singles. "He's got a good sinker, a lot of movement on the ball. He gets a lot of ground balls, so to score on him you've got to string a few hits together, and we weren't able to do that."
Arizona manager Bob Melvin said Webb's strong finish showed that he's maturing. "He's a little wiser, able to step back and make adjustments more on the fly," Melvin said.
Webb, a career .097 hitter, also helped himself at the plate, driving in the game's first run with a grounder.
That run came in the second inning, when the Diamondbacks took the lead without a base hit. Damion Easley reached on an error by Biggio at second base. Orlando Hudson then bounced to Pettitte, whose throw to second was too late to nail Easley.
Easley advanced to third on a fielder's choice and scored on Webb's groundout.
After Houston tied it on Everett's two-out double in the fourth, Arizona went ahead for good in the bottom of the inning. Hudson and Chris Snyder both singled and advanced on Webb's sacrifice bunt. Craig Counsell drove in Hudson with a groundout.
It was another example of the small-ball style the Diamondbacks have been forced to play in the first two weeks. Arizona came into play Friday batting a National League-worst .231 as a team. The Diamondbacks' .314 on-base percentage was tied for 14th in the league.
Arizona made it 3-1 in the sixth. After hitting a drive off the top of the left-field wall, Hudson pulled into second base with an apparent double. But third base umpire Tim Welke signaled a home run, and Hudson jogged around the bases.
After the Astros protested, the umpires met, then called Hudson out of the dugout and sent him back to second. According to Chase Field rules, a ball hitting the yellow line atop the fence is in play.
"To their credit, they got it right," said Melvin, who initially argued the call.
As fans booed the reversal, Snyder doubled in Hudson.
Conor Jackson finished the scoring with a two-run homer in the seventh, his second.
Easley made his eighth career outfield appearance when he started in right field. It was his fifth career start as an outfielder and the first since Oct. 1, 2004, with Florida. ... Diamondbacks relievers have stranded all eight of their inherited runners this year. ... Houston's Willie Taveras extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single in the third inning.