PHOENIX (AP) - Livan Hernandez was wheeling and dealing against his former team, whipping fastballs past the Diamondbacks, freezing them with that slow curveball of his.
There were a couple of extra-base hits, a couple of runs, an outing that should have been good enough to give Hernandez a long-awaited a win.
Washington's offense just didn't hold up its end.
The Nationals spoiled a quality start by Hernandez with another offensive clunker Saturday night, managing just four hits in a 2-0 loss to Arizona to get shut out in consecutive games for the second time in a month.
``To me, it's about the good pitching in general - we are not winning ballgames when we pitched so well,' Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. ``Everybody feels that on the club. Myself right on down to the coaches and player all feel terrible about the way have squandered some chances to win ball games when we pitch this well.'
Hernandez (3-7) certainly pitched well, holding Arizona to a pair of runs on four hits over seven solid innings.
The Nationals just didn't give him much help on offense, squandering a pair of chances against Arizona starter Joe Saunders in the first two innings before going down quietly over the next six.
Washington was stymied by Diamondbacks rookie Josh Collmenter in a 4-0 loss to Arizona Friday and wasn't much better against Saunders, David Hernandez and J.J. Putz, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. Coming off a three-game winning streak, the Nationals have seven combined hits in two games
``We have been swinging the bats well these last 10 days,' Riggleman said. ``We have had a lot of good offensive days, but yesterday and today their pitchers didn't let it happen.'
Saunders (3-5) had a lot to do with it.
The left-hander had a miserable start to the season, going 0-5 with a 5.02 ERA his first nine starts. He finally broke through with a win at Colorado on May 24 and was good enough in his last start, allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings in a 15-4 win over Florida.
Saunders found himself in a sticky spot right off the bat against Washington, facing first and third with one out. He worked out of it, striking out Michael Morse then getting Wilson Ramos on a lazy flyout with the bases loaded.
Saunders did it again in the third inning, this time by striking out Morse and getting Danny Espinosa on a nubber to the mound. He got into a nice groove after that, retiring the next 12 batters before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh with a 2-0 lead.
Hernandez worked through a tough spot in the eighth and Putz bounced back from his first blown save by closing out the ninth for his 17th save, pushing Arizona back into the NL West lead with its 18th win in 22 games.
``With his experience, he's wiggled out of a lot of those situations and he did it again tonight,' Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said of Saunders. ``We'd prefer to not have those situations early, try to correct that somehow, but Joe has been very good at that.'
Hernandez was nearly as good, giving up Drew's run-scoring triple in the first inning and Nady's RBI double in the seventh, but not much else. He allowed two runs on four hits, but got one run or less support for the seventh time in 13 starts to remain winless in seven outings since April 28.
``I'm not frustrated - I go out and do my job,' Hernandez said. ``I have to go out and try to pitch and give us a chance to win and nothing else.'
NOTES: Nationals OF Jayson Werth returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game with a sore left elbow. He wore a pad on the elbow after being struck by a pitch in Thursday's game against Arizona, finishing 0 for 1 with two walks and a hit by pitch. ... Saunders had four assists on defense, including a nifty play on a sacrifice bunt by Ian Desmond in the third inning, snaring his push bunt near the line and backhanding it to first.
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