D-backs open series with 6-1 win over Cubs
PHOENIX - Jason Kubel hit a two-run homer and five relievers filled in for scratched starter Joe Saunders to lift the Arizona Diamondback to a 6-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
Saunders had trouble getting loose in the bullpen, so the Diamondbacks turned to one-time starter Josh Collmenter. He gave up a long homer to Geovany Soto in the fourth and Brad Ziegler (4-1) followed with two scoreless innings.
David Hernandez escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and pitched a perfect ninth to finish off his second save and Arizona's eighth victory in nine home games.
Jeff Samardzija (5-6) gave up a two-run triple to Miguel Montero after Kubel's homer and the Cubs stranded 11 runners during their sixth loss in nine games.
With Saunders out, Collmenter got another crack at starting.
The over-the-top right-hander struggled through most of the spring and his first four starts before being bumped to the bullpen. Collmenter took the demotion well and has thrived in his new role, posting a 1.45 ERA with 18 strikeouts and two walks in 18 2-3 innings.
He did his part on short notice against the Cubs, escaping a jam in the second inning by striking out Luis Valbuena and Samardzija after walking two to load the bases with one out.
Collmenter worked around another walk in the third inning, but left a 1-2 pitch up in the fourth that Soto sent about 25 feet above the yellow line for a 1-0 Cubs lead.
Collmenter was done after four innings, giving up three hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
Samardzija had Arizona guessing until the fourth inning, when Kubel, swinging on a 3-0 pitch, lifted a two-run homer to left-center. The Diamondbacks cobbled together another run off Samardzija with two outs in the fifth: Ziegler's first career hit, Willie Bloomquist's squibbed single to the right side and Aaron Hill's run-scoring single that extended his home hitting streak to 14 games and the lead to 3-1.
Samardzija created problems for himself in the sixth, walking the first two batters to set up Montero's two-run triple that put Arizona up 5-1. The right-hander allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings, the second time in three starts he's yielded at least five earned runs.
Justin Upton added a double in the seventh inning off Jairo Asencio that scored Bloomquist, who made a heads-up play by tagging up and moving to second on Hill's long fly to center.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the eighth against Bryan Shaw, who replaced Craig Breslow, but Hernandez got David DeJesus to hit a weak grounder to second to end the inning.
Hernandez had his first career hit in the bottom half before closing out the ninth to become the first Diamondbacks player to have a hit and a save since Jose Valverde on Sept. 20, 2003, at Milwaukee.