Saunders, D-backs unravel in one big inning

Saunders, D-backs unravel in one big inning

Saunders, D-backs unravel in one big inning
PHOENIX -- On the heels of a weekend sweep in Houston, the D-backs turned to veteran Joe Saunders on Monday to take down another last-place squad, a team the lefty tossed a three-hit shutout against earlier this season.

But instead of a repeat dominant performance, the 31-year-old left after just 3 2/3 innings, surrendering the most earned runs in his seven-year career.

Jumping on Saunders for nine runs after he shut them out in April, the Marlins pounded out a season-high 20 hits and cruised past the D-backs, 12-3, on Monday at Chase Field, snapping Arizona's four-game winning streak.

"Joe didn't throw the ball very good," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He fell apart. It happened quickly. You're kind of forced to stick with him and save your bullpen, but that didn't happen either."

Saunders' previous career high for earned runs allowed over his 182 career starts was eight.

"You have to turn the page quick," Saunders said. "I still made some pitches, but they hit the ones I left up hard."

On the other side of the coin, Marlins starter Mark Buehrle also reversed an outcome from earlier this season. After giving up seven runs (four earned) on April 30 to the D-backs, Buehrle shut down Arizona this time around, holding the club to two runs on six hits over seven strong innings.

Giancarlo Stanton had the loudest night for the Marlins, blasting two homers and driving in four runs while the rest of the starting position players each collected at least one hit.

"We haven't done that all year, but that's the ideal situation of hitting with runners in scoring position, playing with the gaps and having good at-bats all around," Stanton said. "Feed off each other. One of us could have hit into a double play or something and killed the mood or the momentum. We kept it rolling."

The sole bright spot for the D-backs was Jason Kubel, who got the team started on a good note in the first inning with both his arm and his bat.

In the top half of the frame with two outs, the left fielder threw out Jose Reyes trying to stretch a double into a triple. The assist marked his 12th of the season, tying the club record of Eric Byrnes and Gerardo Parra.

A few minutes later in the bottom of the inning, Kubel launched his 26th homer of the season to right field to put the D-backs ahead, 1-0.

The lead didn't last long, however.

After the Marlins began their third inning with three singles to tie the game, Stanton and Justin Ruggiano connected for back-to-back long balls off Saunders to put Miami suddenly in front, 5-1.

"It was an unraveling inning, but they beat out some balls out and hit some popups that fell. What are you going to do?" Saunders said. "They hit it where we weren't. That's all you can do, make your pitches, whatever happens happens. The bad pitch I made was to Stanton and he hit it about five miles. It happens."

The bleeding didn't stop there though. Saunders served up four more hits, resulting in three more runs, before Gibson finally went to the bullpen for help. Right-handed reliever Brad Bergesen proceeded to give up another hit to score the ninth run of the inning before Carlos Lee was thrown out at second base trying for a double to end the marathon inning.

In all, the Marlins collected 10 hits in the frame to tie their franchise record and blow the game wide open.

The D-backs added a run in their half of the fourth on an RBI single from Chris Johnson. But the Marlins struck again in the fifth and seventh, when Stanton hit another homer, off Bergesen to extend their advantage to double digits.

"Stanton has been very hot, he's been hitting the ball out of the ballpark," Gibson said. "He did what he does. We made poor pitches to him and he hammered them."

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