Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 5/2/12
While the Washington Nationals boast baseball's best team ERA, the pitcher that leads the majors in that category hails from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Joe Saunders looks to continue his impressive start and help the Diamondbacks win a fourth straight game Wednesday night against the slumping Nationals. After recording a 5.93 April ERA a year ago, Saunders (2-1, 0.90 ERA) has been lights out through the first month of this season for Arizona (13-11). The left-hander is limiting opponents to a .186 batting average, has 0.87 WHIP and has gone at least seven innings in each of his four starts. He is coming off one of the best outings of his career, tossing a three-hitter in Friday's 5-0 win in Miami. "He's been great, very consistent," Kirk Gibson said. "He's taken the ball every fifth day and is really dominant with his stuff." Saunders has been at his best in his two outings away from Arizona, having yet to allow a run while yielding seven hits and four walks over 16 innings. He is 9-3 with a 2.30 ERA over his last 14 road starts, but one of his worst outings in this stretch came at Nationals Park. In the nation's capital on Aug. 22, Saunders gave up four runs in six innings of a 4-1 loss. He has a 6.00 ERA in losing his two career starts at Washington. The Nationals (14-9) were hoping a return home would help them get back on track after ending their road trip with a thud, but they dropped Tuesday's opener 5-1 extending their losing streak to five. They had only lost four times in their first 18 games. A punchless offense has been the biggest reason for this slump, as Washington has plated seven runs while batting .155 in its last five. "I feel like we've got the hitters that can hit," manager Davey Johnson said. "Not as aggressive as I'd like to see. We're not getting a good strike and driving it. I know that talent is there. ... It's going to put a strain on the pitching staff if we don't start scoring some runs." The Nationals recalled Bryce Harper from the minors over the weekend to provide a spark, but he went 0 for 3 with a strikeout in his home debut Tuesday. Batting in the No. 7 spot in the order in his first three games, the No. 1 pick of the 2010 draft is 2 for 9. It's not going to get any easier for Harper against Saunders, whom left-handed hitters are 4 for 24 (.167) against with no extra-base hits and no walks. Arizona's offense could also have trouble against the Nationals, who have a major league-best 2.40 ERA and are tied with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers for the most strikeouts with 202. Scheduled starter Edwin Jackson (1-1, 3.16) might be the weakest link in a superb rotation, but he enters May having thrown 10 2-3 scoreless innings over his final two April outings. Against San Diego on Thursday, Jackson allowed six hits and three walks in 6 2-3 shutout innings, but the Padres rallied to hand the Nationals a 2-1 loss. Washington has lost three of his four starts. The right-hander, who threw a no-hitter with Arizona in 2010, is 1-2 with a 3.33 ERA in four career starts against his former team, and he'll have to be careful pitching to Jason Kubel and Justin Upton. Kubel is batting .467 with two home runs, four doubles and seven RBIs in his last seven games, and is 2 for 8 with a homer and double against Jackson since 2009. Upton, who had two hits and two RBIs Tuesday, has singled in all three of his at-bats against Jackson.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Why Rickie Fowler will win the PGA Championship

Warren Sapp bitten on arm by shark

Fitzpatrick, Jets agree to one-year deal

Baker considering removing Papelbon from closer role?

Greg Hardy struggling to find work, reportedly even in CFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jets players told not to discuss Ryan Fitzpatrick situation

Brock Lesnar won't be punished by WWE for UFC drug test

Report: Cowboys to be fined up to $250K for suspended players

Data shows NFL-backed youth program that claimed reduced concussions is bogus

Report: Odom’s family working hard to get him to go to rehab

Drug dealers adding Olympic rings to cocaine wrappers in Rio

Justin Timberlake advocates for Memphis to join Big 12

Poll: Las Vegas residents don’t support public funds for NFL stadium

Conor McGregor talks trash to Nate Diaz on ‘Conan’

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Real Madrid can’t train at Norwegian school because of the kids

Newspaper uses Michael Jordan ‘crying face’ as image

Equipment manager Blake Griffin punched no longer works for Clippers

Report: Nicks signing one-year deal with Saints

Reds 'picking up the pace' on Jay Bruce trade talks

Robbie Keane rescued on highway after running out of gas

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Tigers play high stakes game of Rock, Paper, Scissors

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker