OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Arizona’s Chris Young was completely focused on getting a triple to complete the first cycle of his career when he came up for his last at-bat.
“But I decided to strike out on three pitches and look terrible instead,” Young said with a grin.
Not much else went wrong for Young, who had three hits and four RBIs, including a two-run homer, in the Diamondbacks’ 4-2 win over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.
Sparked by manager Kirk Gibson’s plea for Arizona’s offense to produce runs early, Young had an RBI-single in the first and a run-scoring double in the third before hitting his 16th home run of the season in the fifth.
“His (batting practice) has been better and we’ve just been waiting to see it come out of the sessions in the cage,” Gibson said. “He’s just learned to slow it down, let the ball come to him and use his quick hands. He’s not a big guy … but he’s very powerful.”
Saunders (5-7) pitched seven-plus innings for Arizona, yielding two runs and eight hits while improving to 12-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 18 career starts against Oakland. That’s his most wins against any single team.
“I just like pitching here,” said Saunders, who used to play for the Angels. “There’s something about this ballpark that kind of fits my eye. I didn’t have quite my A game but I made some big pitches and the defense picked me up nice.”
“They just did more with their hits than we did with ours,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
Bloomquist and Kelly Johnson(notes) opened the game with back-to-back singles against Josh Outman(notes) (3-3). Justin Upton(notes) then struck out looking, but Young came through with a single to right.
Young, who has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, drove in Johnson with a double just inside the third-base line in the third.
After Outman retired the first two batters in the fifth, Upton walked and Young followed with his two-run home run.
“Lately we’ve been struggling in the first four or five innings,” Young said. “Willie starting it off with a base hit was nice. It’s good for the momentum especially when Joe’s pitching as well as he is, to put a run on the board early for him is nice.”
Outman (3-3) allowed seven hits and walked three in six innings.
Saunders pitched with runners on base in all but one inning but kept the damage to a minimum. He also started a 1-4-3 double play in the seventh.
The A’s, who had a mini-surge of their own with nine runs in their previous two games, hit into two double plays and left seven runners on base.
Oakland chased Saunders when Adam Rosales(notes) walked and Jemile Weeks(notes) singled to begin the eighth. Yhency Brazoban(notes) came in and was called for a balk when he tried stopping his motion, then tossed the ball to the ground.
Sizemore’s groundout drove in Rosales. After Coco Crisp(notes) struck out looking, Hideki Matsui(notes) hit a soft single to right to score Weeks. Chris Carter also singled before Brazoban struck out Conor Jackson(notes) to end the inning.
NOTES: Diamondbacks LF Gerardo Parra(notes) appeared to jam his right hand while making a sliding catch on Chris Carter’s fly ball in the fourth but stayed in the game. … Arizona SS Stephen Drew(notes) was given the day off but should be back in the lineup Sunday. … Gibson is resisting moving RHP Josh Collmenter(notes) to the bullpen after the rookie lost his fourth consecutive decision on Friday. “I don’t care what people think,” Gibson said. “We’ll try to get him on track. What he did early wasn’t a fluke. He just needs to make quality pitches.” … Oakland OF Josh Willingham(notes) (Achilles’ tendon strain) is eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday but there has been no timetable set for his return. … The game was delayed briefly in the first inning when the grounds crew had to replace second base.