One Saunders has helped the Seattle Mariners' offense bust out in the first two games of their series with the Baltimore Orioles, and another will try to help finish it on a positive note by holding the opposition's lineup in check.
Former Oriole Joe Saunders takes the mound for Seattle as the teams conclude a three-game set Sunday at Camden Yards.Outfielder Michael Saunders hit a two-run homer and drove in another run in Friday's series opener, but the Mariners (51-59) fell 11-8 for their fourth straight loss.His performance Saturday helped Seattle end its skid, though, as Saunders hit a three-run homer in the fifth before adding a two-run shot in the ninth in an 8-4 win.Justin Smoak went 3 for 3 while Kendrys Morales added two hits. He's 15 for 22 (.682) during a streak of five consecutive multihit games."We've been swinging the bat really well lately," Saunders said. "We lost a couple heartbreakers, played well in Boston (in the previous series) although we got swept. We were able to put up some runs (Saturday)."Joe Saunders, no relation to Michael, now will look to shut down Baltimore for a second time.Saunders (9-10, 4.65) went 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts for the Orioles last season after coming over in a trade with Arizona on Aug. 26. He pitched a gem against his former team April 29, throwing a four-hitter in a 6-2 victory.The left-hander hasn't been nearly as good lately following a four-start winning streak, though, allowing five runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 10-1 loss to Cleveland on July 24 before allowing five runs in five frames of an 8-2 defeat at Boston on Tuesday."He's not a guy that can pitch up in the zone, so he's got to stay down there," acting manager Robby Thompson said.Saunders went 2-2 with a 5.18 ERA in four starts at Camden Yards last season, but Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who leads the majors with 40 homers and 102 RBIs, is just 3 for 15 with a homer and six strikeouts off Saunders.Davis had a sacrifice fly while Matt Wieters and Manny Machado, who also hit his major league-best 40th double, hit solo homers for Baltimore (61-50), which has lost seven of 11."We were fortunate. They could have scored a lot more runs," manager Buck Showalter said.The Orioles look to get back on track with help from Wei-Yin Chen, who has been solid after being sidelined nearly two months due to a strained right oblique.Chen (6-3, 2.87) has gone 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts since returning July 10. He struck out a season-high nine while giving up three runs in 7 1/3 innings of Tuesday's 4-3 win over Houston."I'm a little tired right now," Chen said after throwing a career-high 119 pitches. "This was the first time I threw that many in the U.S., but I definitely felt really strong and really good."The left-hander's last defeat came May 1, when he allowed a season-worst five runs in four innings of an 8-3 loss at Seattle in his shortest outing of the season.Michael Morse, who is 4 for 9 with a homer in this series after going 0 for 15 in his previous five games, hit a two-run homer off Chen in that contest.