Diamondbacks-Angels Preview

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.