Earlier this month, Joe Saunders earned his first victory for the Arizona Diamondbacks with an impressive performance against the Washington Nationals.
After suffering his first NL loss, Saunders will try to recapture that magic in Friday night's opener of a three-game series at Nationals Park.
The Diamondbacks (46-70) acquired Saunders from the Angels on July 25 in a five-player deal that included starting pitcher Dan Haren. The left-hander had a strong debut in Philadelphia four days later but did not get a decision in a 3-2 defeat.
Saunders (1-1, 3.27 ERA) was even better in his first home start Aug. 3 against the Nationals (49-66), allowing one run and five hits in his fifth career complete game.
"There's a little bit of talk about the Diamondbacks gave up a lot and I'm here to prove the fans wrong, obviously, and prove my worth to the organization," he said after that win.
However, he couldn't build on that performance Sunday against San Diego, giving up six runs over six innings of a 10-1 loss.
"I thought my command was off - couldn't really throw strike one - and that's what kind of hurt me, put them into hitters' counts," Saunders said. "When they didn't hit the ball hard, it seemed like they found a hole."
He'll face a Nationals team that's on the verge of matching a season-high six-game losing streak. Washington, which dropped six in a row June 15-20, has also lost a season-high four straight at home following Thursday night's 5-0 loss to Florida.
The Nationals have been outscored 33-12 in their last five games while batting .198, and their starting pitchers have also posted a 7.33 ERA during the skid.
John Lannan (3-5, 5.44), however, earned the team's previous victory Aug. 6 against the Dodgers. He allowed three runs and five hits over six innings in his second start following a six-week stay at Double-A Harrisburg and recorded his first major league win since May 28.
"I felt good. It's just something to build off of," Lannan told his team's official website. "I just tried to make pitches when I needed to."
The left-hander, however, hasn't won at home since Aug. 5, 2009. He's 0-2 with a 5.80 ERA at Nationals Park this season but gave up two runs over five innings in his previous outing there Aug. 1 against Philadelphia.
Lannan is also 2-1 with a 0.47 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks and won the only home matchup July 9, 2008.
Arizona, however, enters this series having won six of eight and missed a four-game road sweep of Milwaukee with Thursday's 8-4 loss.
The teams split a four-game series in Arizona earlier this month but the Diamondbacks were swept in three straight at Washington last season.