With a chance to set a season high for consecutive wins in their sights, the Arizona Diamondbacks will also have the goal of sweeping the downtrodden Colorado Rockies when the two National League West inhabitants wrap up a three-game series at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks have climbed back into playoff contention by winning the first five tests of their current 10-game homestand, and the defending NL West champs recorded their eighth straight victory at Chase Field overall with Tuesday's 6-2 triumph over the Rockies. Arizona, now over the .500 mark for the first time since 30, presently trails Atlanta and Pittsburgh by four games in the race for the NL's two Wild Card spots.
Arizona also continued its home dominance over the lowly Rockies with last night's result. Colorado has been handed defeats in 14 of its last 17 matchups at Chase Field and is just 5-18 as the visitor in this series since the start of the 2010 season.
Joe Saunders led the way in the Diamondbacks' latest win by yielding just two runs and three hits over the first seven innings, with the veteran lefty striking out a season-best nine batters in the process.
"I felt great," Saunders said. "I kind of knew when I was warming up that I had good life on my fastball. Everything was working in the bullpen."
Chris Young belted a two-run homer in the fifth inning to aid Saunders' cause, while Miguel Montero knocked in a pair of runners with a double in the seventh that capped the scoring.
Colorado rookie Edwar Cabrera, making a spot start in place of an ailing Drew Pomeranz, lasted just 3 1/3 innings and was touched for two runs while walking four. The Rockies' lone bright spot of the night was Michael Cuddyer, who accounted for all of the team's offense with two solo homers off Saunders.
"We didn't pitch very well tonight and we didn't hit," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said afterward. "You're not going to win too many games that way."
The Rockies haven't won too many as of late, with Tuesday's setback the club's third straight loss and sixth in seven games.
Colorado hopes to bounce back tonight behind Jeff Francis, though the left- hander's recent track record against Arizona doesn't bode well for a rebound.
Francis is 0-6 with a brutal 7.68 earned run average in his last seven meetings with Arizona and hasn't beaten the Diamondbacks in the regular season since a 2-0 decision at Chase Field on May 23, 2007. He's had success against the D-Backs in the past, however, having amassed a 7-7 mark with a 4.78 ERA in 20 overall encounters with tonight's opponent.
The native Canadian also hasn't won in any of his last three starts and was reached for five runs and eight hits in a five-inning no-decision at San Diego on Saturday.
He'll be opposed tonight by Trevor Cahill, who evened his 2012 ledger at 8-8 by topping Houston this past Friday at Chase Field. The offseason acquisition hurled 5 1/3 innings in that game and surrendered four runs (3 earned) on nine hits, but got plenty of offensive support in a 13-8 Arizona rout.
Cahill is now 6-3 over his last nine starts.
The 24-year-old is 1-1 in three career outings against Colorado, despite a 6.75 ERA over the course of those games. The lone win occurred on April 15 of this season, when Cahill allowed just one run and four hits over 7 1/3 innings at Coors Field.
Arizona, which is aiming to win six in a row for the first time since a nine- game run from Aug. 23-31 of last season, did make a notable trade on Tuesday, shipping third baseman Ryan Roberts to Tampa Bay in exchange for minor league second baseman Tyler Bortnick.
The Diamondbacks have won six of 10 meetings with Colorado thus far in 2012, with Arizona taking two of three bouts in a series at Chase Field back in June.