D-backs sweep A's to return to .500

D-backs sweep A's to return to .500

D-backs sweep A's to return to .500
PHOENIX -- Baby steps are turning into giant leaps for the suddenly revitalized D-backs.

When the club dropped the opening game of its week-long homestand on Monday to the Rockies, the team fell to a National League-worst 10-16 at home and 25-30 overall.

But just six days and five games later, the D-backs have reversed their fortunes and crawled back to .500 for the first time since May 5.

On the back of a solid pitching performance from Joe Saunders and two RBIs apiece from Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel, the D-backs defeated the Athletics, 4-3, on Sunday at Chase Field, sweeping the three-game Interleague set and picking up their seventh win in eight games.

"We were at a point where some questioned where we were headed. Now we're kind of back on track," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We still made some mistakes, but we're getting cleaner."

Saunders, who took the loss on Monday night and said after the game that the home fans deserved better, allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits to get the win.

"It's nice to get the sweep here. We haven't played very well here this year," Saunders said. "It's nice to turn the page on that and give the fans something to cheer about. You're expected to win at home and maybe be .500 on the road."

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The eventual winning run of the game Sunday scored in the fifth inning on a Kubel two-out RBI hit after Chris Young singled and took second base on a deep flyout to right-center.

"Play of the game was Chris Young tagging up," Gibson said. "Generally, you're not going to tag up there, but he recognized what was going on. That's the winning run. It's very alert; that's good baseball."

Young took a few steps off the base when the fly ball first left the bat of Paul Goldschmidt, but once he saw where it was heading, Young retreated back to first well before center fielder Collin Cowgill recorded the out.

"Just trying to be aggressive. If he makes a great throw, you tip your hat," Young said. "I thought it was a good time in the game to take a chance. We'd be talking different if he throws me out, but he would've had to make a perfect throw to get me out. It's not an easy play. I'm a center fielder, so I understand it's not easy to get your body in a position to make that throw."

Kubel's two-out single scored Young, giving the D-backs 17 two-out RBIs in their past 21 runs scored.

"We don't score unless he does that," Kubel said of Young's baserunning. "He made that play happen."

Just as hot as his team, Goldschmidt also extended his career-best hitting streak to 17 games with a 1-for-3 afternoon at the plate.

A casualty of the win, however, was the D-backs' franchise record errorless streak, which ended at 114 2/3 innings when Henry Blanco failed to hold onto a potential run-saving throw at home plate in the fourth.

A's starter Travis Blackley, who was with the D-backs organization in 2008, lasted 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits.

"They're pretty hot right now, pretty comfortable," Blackley said. "Every time they step to the box, you can read their body language. They even hit balls today."

The D-backs jumped on Blackley with three runs out of the gate, thanks in large part to a costly Oakland fielding miscue.

With the bases loaded and one out in the first, Kubel grounded to second base, a perfect opportunity for an inning-ending double play, but shortstop Cliff Pennington whiffed on the on-target throw from Jemile Weeks, allowing everyone to reach safely and Young to score.

The next batter, Hill, compounded the damage with a two-run single to left to put the D-backs ahead, 3-0.

The A's worked their way back into the game by scoring twice in the fourth, one on a Brandon Inge RBI double and another when Blanco's error on a good throw from left fielder Kubel with two outs allowed Inge to score, closing the gap to one.

"I made some good pitches," Saunders said. "They are a scrappy team. Their numbers aren't the respect they get. Can't take them for granted."

After Kubel's clutch hit in the fifth, Seth Smith added a pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh before the D-backs bullpen closed the door.

Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com . This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.