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D-backs ready to make their pitch for title

The Sports Xchange
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The Diamondbacks have several reasons to believe they can hang with San Francisco in the NL West race for the final two months of the season, not the least of which is starting pitching.

The Giants have the names, but the numbers for both the top three and top four starters on each team are very similar, and that was before the D-backs made what they consider an upgrade by trading for Jason Marquis at the non-waiver trade deadline last weekend.

D-backs right-handers Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson and left-hander Joe Saunders are a combined 32-18 with a 3.46 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and 46 quality starts in 452 1/3 innings this season. New No. 4 Jason Marquis was roughed up by the Giants in his first start but was 8-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 20 starts for Washington.

Giants right-handers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and left-hander Madison Bumgarner are 24-26 with a 3.44 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and 48 quality starts in 434 2/3 innings. Add Ryan Vogelsong, the top qualifier for the NL ERA lead, and the numbers change to 33-27, a 2.96 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and 61 quality starts in 549 2/3 innings.

"We wanted to address our pitching," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said.

It's about a wash, and the D-backs could argue that they have posted their numbers in a much more hitter-friendly park. Chase Field is rated the third-best hitting park in the NL, behind Colorado and Cincinnati, by baseball-reference.com. San Francisco is ranked as the best pitchers' park, ahead of even San Diego.

Saunders, who has made eight quality starts in his last nine appearances, will begin the D-backs' next turn through the rotation against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. Saunders' lone non-quality start in that run was when he was lifted after five shutout innings because of a 66-minute rain delay in St. Louis in his last start before the All-Star break. Saunders, 8-8 with a 3.56 ERA, has won five of his last six starts with a 2.10 ERA in his last eight.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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