Saunders hopes to stretch Arizona win streak against Marlins

11:02 AM, Aug 20, 2012   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Arizona Diamondbacks turn to Joe Saunders tonight in an effort to match their longest winning streak of the season as they begin a four-game set over three days against the Miami Marlins.

The Diamondbacks hope to make a move in the playoff race as they sit 4 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West and five behind a wild card spot. They have kept pace by winning four in a row, including Sunday's 8-1 win over the Houston Astros.

Ian Kennedy held the Astros, who had Tony DeFrancesco making his debut as interim manager, to one run over six innings despite dive hits and a season- high five walks. He also struck out seven in the win.

Miguel Montero ripped a two-run single and Aaron Hill added pair of solo home runs for the Diamondbacks, who have twice this season won a season-high five games in a row.

Arizona will try to better that win streak in this series, which will feature the first ever doubleheader at Arizona's Chase Field. This four-game set was originally set to wrap on Thursday, but the clubs will instead play two on Wednesday because of a scheduling issue.

Saunders aims to get the D'Backs off on the right foot, but has lost three of his last four starts and is 2-5 over his last eight appearances. The left- hander gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk in a loss to the hosting St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, logging six innings despite getting hit on his left hand by a line drive.

Saunders fell to 6-9 with a 3.70 earned run average in 20 starts this season and that includes a three-hit shutout at Miami on April 27. It was the third shutout of the 31-year-old's career and moved him to 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three career outings versus the Marlins.

Mark Buehrle counters for Miami in what will be just the second start of his career versus the Diamondbacks despite this being his 13th season.

The first 12 of those came with the White Sox and he faced Arizona as a member of the Marlins on April 30. Buehrle took a loss on that day, charged with seven runs -- four earned -- on eight hits and a walk in five innings.

The left-hander did snap a five-start winless stretch with a win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. Buehrle had been 0-3 with a 6.84 ERA during the skid, but held the Phils to a pair of runs on five hits over seven frames of a 9-2 win.

"The rest of the starters were giving me a hard time because we finally scored on my time, like, 'Hey, must be nice, must be nice to score some runs,'" Buehrle said. "In the meantime, when you score some early runs, it's nice."

Buehrle, 33, improved to 10-11 with a 3.74 ERA in 24 starts this season, giving him double-digit wins for the 12th straight year. That matches CC Sabathia for the longest active streak.

The Marlins head to Arizona after splitting a four-game series with the Colorado Rockies. They failed to earn a series win due to Sunday's 3-2 setback.

Josh Johnson, who had only allowed four runs in 30 2/3 career innings against the Rockies, surrendered three runs on seven hits and four walks to take the loss.

Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton had homered in each of his first six career games at Coors Field before going 0-for-2 with a pair of intentional walks on Sunday.

"They had a smart strategy," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "A couple of times they didn't pitch to him and did a great job on him."

The Diamondbacks have won six of their past seven versus the Marlins, including three of four in Miami from April 27-30.

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