D-backs notebook: Bad luck dogs Saunders
Joe Saunders made his second consecutive quality start Thursday since coming off the disabled list following the All-Star break, although he had nothing but a no-decision to show for it. His 4-6 record does not tell the story of his season -- he has received an average of 4.74 runs per game per nine innings as the pitcher of record this year, the third lowest among NL qualifiers behind Philadelphia LHP Cliff Lee (4.69) and San Diego RHP Edinson Volquez (4.41). The Arizona bullpen has blown four saves in Saunders' 15 starts this season.
--2B Aaron Hill extended his hitting streak to 10 games with two hits Thursday, including his 13th home run of the season. Hill, hitting .303, had eight homers in 2011, two after coming to the D-backs in an Aug. 23 trade with Toronto. He is hitting .369 with six homers and 17 RBI in his last 26 games, starting when he hit for a cycle against Seattle on June 18. His fifth-inning homer Thursday extended the Great American Ball Park streak of games with a home run to 72.
--C Henry Blanco's three-run homer that gave the D-backs a 6-0 lead in the sixth inning was his first of the season in his 57th at-bat. Blanco made his first start since the All-Star break and his sixth since May 22. C Miguel Montero has racked up most of the playing time.
--LHP Mike Zagurski, who retired the only batter he faced in the seventh inning, has been scored upon in only one of his last nine outings. He has been effective since being recalled from Class AAA Reno three weeks into the season. His 4.63 ERA is skewed by outings in which he gave up three and four earned runs.
--RF Justin Upton was 7 for 16 while hitting in the No. 5 spot for the first time this season in the Cincinnati series. He had two doubles, an RBI and a stolen base. He did not have much opportunity to drive in runs against the Reds, but he was 2-for-3 with two singles and an RBI in his at-bats with runners in scoring position. With 2B Aaron Hill continuing to produce, it appears the order will not change when Arizona opens a 10-game homestand with the first game of a three-game series against Houston on Friday.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Blown saves behind LHP Joe Saunders this season. He is 4-6 despite making 11 quality starts in 15 outings this season.