Washington at Arizona

W: J. Saunders (3-5) L: L. Hernandez (3-7)
S: J. Putz (17)
HR: WAS - None   ARI - None

Diamondbacks 2, Nationals 0

CBSSports.com wire reports

PHOENIX -- Joe Saunders has had more than his share of early-inning trouble this season.

Unlike earlier in the year, he's finding ways to wriggle out of them.

Saunders kept his string of solid starts going by escaping two jams in seven solid innings, combining on a four-hitter that lifted the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.

More on Nationals at D-Backs

Updating MLB news | Follow on Twitter

"With his experience, he's wiggled out of a lot of those situations and he did it again tonight," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "We'd prefer to not have those situations early, try to correct that somehow, but Joe has been very good at that."

He needed to be after Arizona didn't put up much offense for the second straight night.

The Diamondbacks had just four hits, their only runs coming on an early triple by Stephen Drew and Xavier Nady's late double off hard-luck Nationals starter Livan Hernandez (3-7).

Of course, they didn't need much the way Saunders was pitching.

Shaking off a pair of two-on, one-out jams in the first three innings, he retired the final 14 batters he faced and held the Nationals to two hits to win his third straight start. He had plenty of juice to keep going when he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, but had nothing to worry about with David Hernandez and J.J. Putz in the bullpen.

Hernandez worked through a tough spot in the eighth and Putz bounced back from his first blown save by closing out the ninth for his 17th save, pushing Arizona back into the NL West lead with its 18th win in 22 games.

"It's huge when they're picking us on when we're not getting a lot of offense," Drew said after his 50th career triple. "At the same time, we're getting timely hitting with the RBIs."

Coming off a three-game winning streak, Washington has gone flat with the bat.

The Nationals were stymied by Diamondbacks rookie Josh Collmenter in a 4-0 loss Friday and followed that with second offensive clunker to spoil another quality start by Hernandez for their second back-to-back shutouts in a month.

"To me, it's about the good pitching in general - we are not winning ballgames when we pitched so well," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "Everybody feels that on the club. Myself right on down to the coaches and player all feel terrible about the way have squandered some chances to win ball games when we pitch this well."

Saunders had a lot to do with it.

The left-hander had a miserable start to the season, going 0-5 with a 5.02 ERA his first nine starts. He finally broke through with a win at Colorado on May 24 and was good enough in his last start, allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings in a 15-4 win over Florida.

Saunders found himself in a sticky spot right off the bat against Washington, facing first and third with one out. He worked out of it, striking out Michael Morse then getting Wilson Ramos on a lazy flyout with the bases loaded.

Saunders did it again in the third inning, this time by striking out Morse and getting Danny Espinosa on a nubber to the mound. He got into a nice groove after that, retiring the next 12 batters before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh with a 2-0 lead.

"I was tired of going out there and not contributing, keep the team in ball games and losing one-run games," said Saunders, who's lasted at least six innings in seven straight starts. "It was time for me to say, hey, turn this around."

Hernandez was nearly as good.

Arizona finally got to him again in the seventh inning, though, when Nady followed Chris Young's leadoff single with a run-scoring double to the corner in left.

Hernandez allowed two runs on four hits, but got one run or less support for the seventh time in 13 starts to remain winless in seven outings since April 28.

"Livan has been pitching his (backside) off and it is unfortunate the we couldn't come through and support him as an offensive," Nationals center fielder Rick Ankiel said. "But that's the way baseball goes."

Washington also was shut out in consecutive games by the Mets on May 18-19 in New York.


Nationals OF Jayson Werth returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game with a sore left elbow. He wore a pad on the elbow after being struck by a pitch in Thursday's game against Arizona, finishing 0 for 1 with two walks and a hit by pitch. ... Saunders had four assists on defense, including a nifty play on a sacrifice bunt by Ian Desmond in the third inning, snaring his push bunt near the line and backhanding it to first.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Players of the Game

S. Drew
AB 2
R 0
H 1
HR 0

J. Saunders
IP 7.0
H 2
ER 0
BB 2
K 5

Related Video

June 22, 2017
Wednesday's MLB winners and losers (0:41)
Washington Nationals
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B4020010 .250
Ian Desmond, SS2000001 .222
   a- Laynce Nix, PH1010000 .307
    Cole Kimball, P0000000 .000
Jayson Werth, RF1000200 .254
Michael Morse, 1B4000036 .302
Danny Espinosa, 2B3000112 .214
Wilson Ramos, C4000013 .242
Rick Ankiel, CF4010010 .200
Brian Bixler, LF3000010 .125
   b- Roger Bernadina, PH1000001 .240
Livan Hernandez, P2000000 .190
   c- Alex Cora, PH-SS1000000 .244
a-singled for Desmond in the 8th
b-flied out for Bixler in the 9th
c-popped out for Hernandez in the 8th
2B - Jerry Hairston Jr. (8, Saunders), Rick Ankiel (5, Putz)
SH - Ian Desmond (4)
SB - Ian Desmond (17, 3rd base off Saunders/Blanco), Jayson Werth (7, 2nd base off Saunders/Blanco)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Ramos-Espinosa, Espinosa-Desmond-Morse
Washington Nationals
Livan Hernandez (L,3-7) 7422430 3.76
Cole Kimball 1000010 2.38
Pitches-Strikes - Livan Hernandez 96-53, Cole Kimball 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Livan Hernandez 10-6, Cole Kimball 1-1
Batters Faced - Livan Hernandez 27, Cole Kimball 3
Arizona Diamondbacks
Ryan Roberts, 3B4000010 .270
Kelly Johnson, 2B2100200 .218
Justin Upton, RF4010011 .271
Stephen Drew, SS2011100 .286
Chris Young, CF3110013 .236
Xavier Nady, 1B3011001 .276
Gerardo Parra, LF3000003 .267
Henry Blanco, C2000110 .257
Joe Saunders, P2000000 .182
   a- Sean Burroughs, PH1000001 .222
    David Hernandez, P0000000 .000
    J.J. Putz, P0000000 .000
a-grounded into a double play for Saunders in the 7th
2B - Xavier Nady (7, Hernandez)
3B - Stephen Drew (4, Hernandez)
RBI - Stephen Drew (33), Xavier Nady (18)
2-OUT RBI - Stephen Drew (10)
CS - Kelly Johnson (1, 2nd base by Hernandez/Ramos)
Team LOB - 4
E - Xavier Nady (2, Throwing)
Arizona Diamondbacks
Joe Saunders (W,3-5) 7200250 4.32
David Hernandez (H,8) 1100120 1.65
J.J. Putz (S,17) 1100010 1.80
HBP - Werth (by Joe Saunders)
Pitches-Strikes - Joe Saunders 93-55, David Hernandez 21-12, J.J. Putz 19-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Saunders 13-3, J.J. Putz 1-1
Batters Faced - Joe Saunders 26, David Hernandez 5, J.J. Putz 4
Game Information
Attendance - 26199
Game Time - 2:31
Temperature - 78
Umpires - Home - Victor Carapazza, First Base - Rob Drake, Second Base - Gary Darling, Third Base - Bruce Dreckman