Enjoying their longest winning streak since opening the 2012 season with four straight victories, the Arizona Diamondbacks try to make it five in a row this afternoon as they close out a three-game interleague set against the Oakland Athletics at Chase Field.
However, even though the Diamondbacks are on the verge of sweeping Oakland today, the club is still one game under .500 overall and 8 1/2 games out of contention in the National League West.
On Saturday the team put up five runs in the fifth, thanks to a grand slam by Miguel Montero, en route to an 8-3 win over the A's. Jason Kubel contributed three hits and a couple RBI, while both Willie Bloomquist and Justin Upton scored twice in the triumph.
Former A's hurler Trevor Cahill inched closer to .500 himself as he logged his fourth win in nine decisions, allowing just two runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out seven over 7 1/3 innings for the hosts.
"He came up with a cutter or a slider or something we hadn't seen before," said A's manager Bob Melvin who was ejected by home plate umpire Tim McClelland following the fifth inning. "He's had a slider, but it looked like something that was more like a cutter and he got some big outs with it."
Oakland starter Jarrod Parker, who was involved in a trade that brought Cahill to Arizona in the first place, was saddled with the loss. Parker made it through just five innings, giving up six runs on eight hits and five costly walks.
Of the 10 hits recorded by the A's, half came from Cliff Pennington and Kurt Suzuki, who logged three and two, respectively.
Slated to take the mound for the visitors this afternoon is Travis Blackley, a left-hander who comes by way of Melbourne, Australia to the major leagues. Blackley, who was with San Francisco earlier this season, lost his only previous decision of 2012, a 6-3 setback against Texas on Tuesday.
Against the Rangers at home, Blackley permitted five runs on seven hits and a pair of walks, while striking out five over 4 2/3 innings of action. The hurler is appearing in just his 18th career game and has a record of 1-4 to show for his efforts.
As for the Diamondbacks, they have Joe Saunders warming up to counter. Saunders, who will turn 31 next weekend, has won just once in his last seven outings and is just 2-4 at home thus far in 2012.
The left-hander was in action on Monday when he was tagged for four runs -- three earned -- on 11 hits and a walk, while striking out three, over the course of 6 2/3 innings versus Colorado in a 4-0 home loss.
Drafted by the Angels with the 12th overall pick in the 2002 draft, Saunders is quite familiar with the A's after spending several seasons in the same division. The Virginia native has an impressive 12-4 mark with a 3.44 ERA in 18 all-time outings versus Oakland.
Even though the Diamondbacks have rattled off six wins in the last seven games, the team's pitching staff has still had issues, specifically placing 25th in the majors in opponent batting average (.263).
Oakland, now sitting in last place in the AL West at eight games under .500 and eight games behind league-leading Texas, might not be much of a threat to the D'backs given that A's hitters are batting a mere .219 and have a slugging percentage of .347, both of which are lowest in the majors entering play on Sunday.
Arizona, now 104-121 all-time in interleague play, has a six-game road trip against Texas and the LA Angels coming up next week while the A's (145-126 versus the NL) are scheduled to take on Colorado and San Diego.