The longball has helped propel the Arizona Diamondbacks toward the top of the NL West.
Arizona looks to continue its power surge Saturday night against the visiting Washington Nationals in the third game of a four-game series.
The Diamondbacks (32-26) have gone deep 26 times while posting a 17-4 record since May 14. Only Milwaukee and Boston have hit more homers in that span with 27, but Arizona has a better record - the Brewers have gone 14-5 while the Red Sox are 13-6.
Arizona also is one-half game behind first-place San Francisco with the Giants scheduled to play earlier Saturday.
The right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.54 ERA in his last six games - all Nationals losses. He’s failed to get decisions in the last two appearances, including Monday against Philadelphia as he surrendered four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 defeat.
Hernandez has allowed eight homers in 76 2-3 innings this year. He gave up just 16 in 211 2-3 innings in 2010.
A Diamondback in 2006 and 2007, Hernandez is 11-7 with a 3.61 ERA in 21 career starts against Arizona.
Jayson Werth(notes) should play Saturday after he was held out of the Nationals lineup due to swelling and stiffness in an elbow hit by a pitch in the series opener. Werth is batting .324 in his last 18 games, but only .255 this year.
The left-hander began 2011 with an 0-5 record and 5.02 ERA in nine starts before winning at Colorado on May 24. Returning home to face Florida on Monday, Saunders allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings as Arizona rolled to a 15-4 win.
“I didn’t have my best stuff, but like I’ve preached all year, you just gotta keep the team as close as possible and we came up with some huge hits tonight,” he told the Diamondbacks’ official website.
Saunders is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two career starts against Washington (25-32).