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Diamondbacks open series with 6-1 win over Cubs

Associated Press Modified: June 23, 2012 at 1:16 am •  Published: June 23, 2012
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PHOENIX (AP) — Joe Saunders threw a few pitches in the bullpen and felt tightness in his shoulder. A few more pitches, same thing.

Maybe he slept on it wrong, maybe it was a fluke occurrence. Whatever it was, one thing was certain: Saunders wasn't going to make his start.

The way Arizona's bullpen pitched, the Diamondbacks didn't need him.

Josh Collmenter was effective in a last-minute start, Brad Ziegler tossed two scoreless innings and David Hernandez worked out of a late jam to help the Diamondbacks cobble together a 6-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night after Saunders was a late scratch.

"It was frustrating for me to not be able to contribute to the team tonight, but they played great," Saunders said. "They pitched their butts off and I couldn't be happier for them."

With Saunders struggling to get loose, the Diamondbacks turned to Collmenter, a one-time starter who had been moved to the bullpen. He gave up a long homer to Geovany Soto and struggled with his control, but got Arizona through four innings.

Ziegler (4-1) took over from there, allowing two hits in two innings, and Hernandez escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth before throwing a perfect ninth for his second save.

Combined with Jason Kubel's two-run homer and Miguel Montero's two-run triple — not to mention two hits by relievers — the Diamondbacks scraped together an everybody-contributes win, their eighth in nine home games.

"Nine innings of one-run ball, 10 strikeouts from our bullpen, that's a pretty impressive effort for our bullpen," manager Kirk Gibson said. "Add a couple of hits from the bullpen, it was quite a night for us."

Chicago right-hander Jeff Samardzija (5-6) struggled after a strong start and lost his third straight outing. His teammates didn't give him much help, struggling with Collmenter's quirky delivery and stranding 11 runners. The second-worst team in the majors, Chicago has lost six of nine.

"Same old story: We had our chances to get back in it or bust it open and couldn't get that big hit to do it," manager Dave Sveum said. "You take the lead and they come right back. We had our chances. You can't have bases loaded a couple of times and get nothing across. You aren't going to win many ballgames."

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 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.

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