PHOENIX (AP) — Joe Saunders escaped two early jams to go seven innings in a combined four-hitter, lifting the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals Saturday night.
Stephen Drew and Xavier Nady drove in runs with extra-base hits off Livan Hernandez (3-7), which was more than enough for Saunders (3-5). The left-hander retired the final 14 batters and held the Nationals to two hits, a night after Josh Collmenter limited them to three in seven scoreless innings.
David Hernandez got through a tough spot in the eighth inning and J.J. Putz bounced back from his first blown save to close out Arizona's 18th win in 22 games.
Washington was shut out in consecutive games for the second time in a month despite holding Arizona to four hits.
Saunders had a miserable start to the season, going 0-5 with a 5.02 ERA his first nine starts. He finally broke through with a win at Colorado on May 24 and was good enough in his last start, allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings in a 15-4 win over Florida.
Saunders found himself in a sticky spot right off the bat against Washington, facing first and third with one out. He worked out of it, striking out Michael Morse then getting Wilson Ramos on a lazy flyout with the bases loaded.
Saunders did it again in the third inning, this time by striking out Morse and getting Danny Espinosa on a nubber to the mound. He got into a nice groove after that, retiring the next 12 batters before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh with a 2-0 lead.
Hernandez was nearly as good.
He, like Saunders, had some trouble in the first inning, giving up a run-scoring triple to Drew, who had a three-run three-bagger against the Nats Friday night.
Also like Saunders, Hernandez settled into a rhythm, keeping the Diamondbacks off balance with hard fastballs and the occasional low-60s curveball that left them frozen or flailing.
Arizona finally got to him again in the seventh inning, when Nady followed Chris Young's leadoff single with a run-scoring double to the corner in left.
Hernandez allowed two runs on four hits, but got one run or less support for the seventh time in 13 starts to stay remain winless in seven outings since April 28.
Washington also was shut out in consecutive games by the Mets on May 18-19 in New York.
NOTES: Nationals OF Jayson Werth returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game with a sore left elbow. He wore a pad on the elbow after being struck by a pitch in Thursday's game against Arizona, finishing 0 for 1 with two walks and a hit by pitch. ... Saunders had four assists on defense, including a nifty play on a sacrifice bunt by Ian Desmond in the third inning, snaring his push bunt near the line and backhanding it to first.