The Arizona Diamondbacks will try to climb over the .500 mark and match their longest win streak of the season when the resurgent team continues a three-game series with the slumping Colorado Rockies this evening at Chase Field.
Arizona has caught fire during its current homestand, opening the sequence with a three-game sweep of Houston in which the Diamondbacks scored a total of 33 runs. The club got some offense from an unlikely source in Monday's opener of this set, with starting pitcher Ian Kennedy delivering a bases-loaded triple in addition to tossing eight strong innings to lead the way in a 6-3 triumph over the Rockies.
Kennedy gave Arizona a 4-0 lead with a deep shot to center off Jonathan Sanchez that cleared the bases in the bottom of the fourth. The right-hander did his part on the mound as well, holding Colorado to two runs and five hits while striking out seven without issuing a walk.
"I've never seen him hit a ball that hard in BP," joked Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson of Kennedy's first career triple.
Paul Goldschmidt added a solo home run and Willie Bloomquist went 2-for-4 with an RBI double to help Arizona to its fourth straight win and 13th in its last 16 matchups against Colorado at home. The Rockies are just 5-17 at Chase Field since the start of the 2010 season.
The defending National League West champion Diamondbacks have ripped off five victories in a row just once this season, which took place from June 5-10, and have now prevailed in their last seven home tests. Arizona, which trails first place San Francisco by six games in the division race, will attempt to move over the .500 mark for the first time since June 30 tonight.
The Diamondbacks will try to do so behind Joe Saunders, with the veteran lefty aiming to halt a three-start winless streak in the process.
Saunders returned from a month-long stint on the disabled list due to a strained shoulder on July 14 and was touched for four runs (3 earned) and eight hits over six innings in a road defeat to the Chicago Cubs. He was a bit better Thursday in Cincinnati, yielding three runs and just four hits in a six-inning no-decision against the Reds.
The 31-year-old was hit hard in a loss to the Rockies at Chase Field back on June 4, permitting four runs (3 earned) and 11 hits through 6 2/3 frames, but sports a 5-2 record and a 3.42 ERA in eight career starts against Colorado. For the season, Saunders is 4-6 with a 3.58 ERA in 15 starts.
Josh Rutledge finished 2-for-4 and hit his first career major league home run for Colorado in last night's defeat, the team's seventh setback in its past nine outings. Sanchez, acquired from Kansas City in exchange for pitcher Jeremy Guthrie on Friday, lasted just four innings in his Rockies debut and allowed five runs while walking four batters.
Colorado will juggle its rotation some more this evening, with scheduled starter Drew Pomeranz to be skipped after experiencing a sore arm. In his place will be Edwar Cabrera, a rookie left-hander who'll be hoping for a better result than his only other appearance in the majors.
Cabrera made a spot start against Washington on June 27 but lasted only 2 1/3 innings and gave up three homers in an 11-5 Colorado loss. The 24-year-old allowed seven runs total (5 earned) and five hits while walking three before being lifted.
The native Dominican has compiled an 11-4 record and a 3.03 ERA over 19 starts between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs this season, including a 3-0 mark with a 3.48 ERA in four games with the Sky Sox.
Arizona has won five of nine meetings with Colorado thus far in 2012, with the Diamondbacks taking two of three bouts in a series at Chase Field back in June.