Nationals-Diamondbacks Preview

The longball has helped propel the Arizona Diamondbacks toward

the top of the NL West.

Arizona looks to continue its power surge Saturday night against

the visiting Washington Nationals in the third game of a four-game

series.

Rookie Josh Collmenter scattered three hits over seven innings,

Stephen Drew had a three-run triple and Chris Young homered to help

Arizona to a 4-0 win Friday.

The Diamondbacks (32-26) have gone deep 26 times while posting a

17-4 record since May 14. Only Milwaukee and Boston have hit more

homers in that span with 27, but Arizona has a better record – the

Brewers have gone 14-5 while the Red Sox are 13-6.

Arizona also is one-half game behind first-place San Francisco

with the Giants scheduled to play earlier Saturday.

The Diamondbacks will try to add to their home run total at the

expense of Livan Hernandez (3-6, 3.87 ERA), who takes the mound for

Washington looking for his first win since April 28.

The right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.54 ERA in his last six games –

all Nationals losses. He’s failed to get decisions in the last two

appearances, including Monday against Philadelphia as he

surrendered four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4

defeat.

Hernandez has allowed eight homers in 76 2-3 innings this year.

He gave up just 16 in 211 2-3 innings in 2010.

A Diamondback in 2006 and 2007, Hernandez is 11-7 with a 3.61

ERA in 21 career starts against Arizona.

Ian Desmond, Laynce Nix and Ivan Rodriguez had Washington’s hits

off Collmenter Friday.

After registering a season-high four hits in Thursday’s

series-opening 6-1 win, Michael Morse went 0 for 4 to end his

11-game hitting streak.

Jayson Werth should play Saturday after he was held out of the

Nationals lineup due to swelling and stiffness in an elbow hit by a

pitch in the series opener. Werth is batting .324 in his last 18

games, but only .255 this year.

After failing to notch a victory over the first six weeks of the

season, Joe Saunders (2-5, 4.77) will try to win his third straight

start for Arizona.

The left-hander began 2011 with an 0-5 record and 5.02 ERA in

nine starts before winning at Colorado on May 24. Returning home to

face Florida on Monday, Saunders allowed four runs and seven hits

in six innings as Arizona rolled to a 15-4 win.

“I didn’t have my best stuff, but like I’ve preached all year,

you just gotta keep the team as close as possible and we came up

with some huge hits tonight,” he told the Diamondbacks’ official

website.

Saunders is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two career starts against

Washington (25-32).