World Cup 2014 coverage:

Diamondbacks-Angels Preview

AP - Sports

Arizona's Joe Saunders hopes his first start against his former team goes a bit better than Los Angeles Angels right-hander Dan Haren's did in the series opener.

Saunders looks to help the surging Diamondbacks move over .500 for the first time in six weeks Saturday night in his return to Angel Stadium.

In their first trip to Anaheim since 2001, the Diamondbacks (32-32) won 5-0 on Friday for their seventh victory in nine games. Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel have been instrumental to that run, and the duo again came up big Friday with Hill hitting a three-run homer and Kubel finishing with three hits and an RBI.

Hill is batting .429 with two homers and nine RBIs in the last nine games, while Kubel is hitting .371 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in his last eight.

Arizona, which hasn't been over .500 since it was 14-13 on May 4, scored all of its runs Friday against Haren, who exited with one out in the seventh inning. Haren, a two-time All-Star with the Diamondbacks from 2008-10, was making his first start against his former team since being sent to the Angels as part of a five-player trade July 25, 2010.

Saunders (4-4, 3.48 ERA) was acquired by the Diamondbacks in that deal.

Although Haren was the headliner in the trade, Saunders played a big role in the Angels' AL West titles in 2008 and '09. Selected by Anaheim in the first round of the 2002 draft, he went 54-32 over parts of six seasons with the Angels and was an All-Star in 2008.

The left-hander has posted a better ERA with the Diamondbacks than with Los Angeles but is just 19-24 since the trade.

Facing an AL team seems to bring out his best. He is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in five interleague games since the start of last season, and has yielded two runs or fewer in eight of his last 11 starts against AL foes. He gave up two runs - one earned - in six innings of a 4-3 win Sunday over Oakland.

He'll be facing an Angels offense that is suddenly slumping. Los Angeles (34-31) was limited to three hits in the opener in being shut out for the first time since May 14, and has totaled seven runs in its last four games after plating at least six in each of its previous six.

Leadoff hitter Mike Trout is 1 for 13 in the last three contests after going 10 for 18 in the previous four.

Saunders will be opposed by the struggling Ervin Santana (3-7, 5.74), who has been knocked around for seven runs in each of his last two starts. He has a 10.18 ERA in his last four outings after posting a 2.17 mark in the four before that.

"I know it's not going my way right now," the right-hander told the Angels' official website after Sunday's 10-8 victory in Colorado.

Santana blew a 6-1 lead entirely in the second inning against the Rockies and was done after 5 2-3, but got enough help from his offense to earn the win, his first in five starts.

He won his only career outing against the Diamondbacks on June 23, 2006.

Hill is 6 for 28 (.214) with a homer against Santana while Kubel is 4 for 18 (.222) with six strikeouts.

View Comments