Exceptional pitching during its winning streak has helped Arizona tighten its grip on the NL West lead. To keep the surge going, the Diamondbacks would like to see Joe Saunders(notes) end the struggles that have left him winless this month.
Arizona seeks its fifth victory in its last six meetings with the San Diego Padres on Saturday.
With a 5-0 win Friday, Arizona (73-59) maintained its three-game division lead over San Francisco, which slipped past major league-worst Houston 2-1. The Diamondbacks have won four straight overall, thanks mainly to a pitching staff that’s allowed three total runs and tossed two shutouts.
Rookie Josh Collmenter(notes) and four relievers combined on a nine-hitter - all singles - and didn’t walk a batter Friday to help Arizona tie a season best with its seventh straight win at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks scored all of their runs in the first two innings, when San Diego committed three errors. The Padres (60-72) have six miscues in their last five games after committing none in their previous eight.
“We came out very aggressive, we stole four bags on them, and kind of forced some action,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “We’ll take it like that when it’s available. We’ll take runs any way we can get them.”
Arizona may need a bigger offensive performance if Saunders (8-11, 3.98 ERA) can’t reverse his recent woes.
The left-hander is 0-3 with a 6.56 ERA in four August outings, receiving a total of six runs of support in that stretch. Saunders lost for the second time on a recently completed road trip in Monday’s 4-1 defeat at Washington, allowing four runs and six hits in six innings.
He’s also 0-3 with a 4.60 ERA in his last five starts in Phoenix, although he pitched a six-hitter in a 6-1 win at San Diego on July 26.
Jason Bartlett(notes), who had two hits Friday, is 1 for 7 this year versus Saunders. Cameron Maybin(notes), who was 0 for 4 but has still hit in 10 of his last 12 games, has also gone 1 for 7 against the Diamondbacks’ scheduled starter.
The right-hander is 6-0 in nine starts away from home despite a 4.65 ERA - more than a full run higher than at spacious Petco Park. Harang has lost his last two starts at Arizona since his lone win there Aug. 20, 2003, but he has a 0.90 ERA in three career outings in Phoenix.
Harang defeated the Diamondbacks on May 8 in San Diego, giving up two runs in seven innings of the 4-3 win.
He’s 3-0 despite a 4.98 ERA in four starts this month, aided by a lineup that’s supported him with an average of 12.46 runs per nine innings.
Harang’s best outing of the month came in last Saturday’s 14-1 rout of Florida. He yielded a solo homer among three hits and fanned six in six innings while overcoming a season-high five walks.
Two of Chris Young’s three hits in 12 career at-bats against Harang have been homers. Arizona’s center fielder has hit in three straight games, including an RBI single Friday, since a 6-for-61 (.098) slump.