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ARI@PHI: Saunders pitches solidly in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- As he watched Erik Kratz's home run ball bounce just over the left-field fence in Saturday's third inning, D-backs starter Joe Saunders figured that might be all the Phillies would need.

"I was like, 'Oh boy, here we go,'" Saunders said.

That's probably how many pitchers have felt when facing Roy Halladay at his finest -- having to match the right-hander pitch for pitch and throw up zero after zero on the scoreboard just to have a chance.

The D-backs ran into that Halladay on Saturday, not the two-time Cy Young Award winner who has struggled and battled injury throughout much of 2012. Unable to solve Halladay's mixing and matching of pitches, the D-backs mustered only three hits against him in a 3-0 loss. The defeat snapped their four-game winning streak and dropped them to 55-52, three games behind the first-place Giants.

"He was cutting us up pretty good, and that's kind of what he does," said Saunders, the hard-luck loser of Saturday's pitchers' duel. "He hasn't done it of late, but he found it in the game tonight. He's Roy Halladay for a reason."

Only four D-backs reached base against Halladay, who struck out five and walked just one over seven innings. Arizona didn't have much more luck against reliever Josh Lindblom in the eighth or closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.

Halladay controlled the strike zone well. Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said his players swung at a few bad pitches in the early innings, which helped Halladay get into a groove.

"It's really hard to get him when he gets going in his groove," Gibson said. "He's so deceptive, and he has such good arm motion and such good movement on his balls. It's just tough. He's won a lot of games in his career. There's a reason for it."

"You face a guy like that, you've really got to buckle down and swing at strikes," said third baseman Chris Johnson, whose recent hot hitting was silenced by Halladay. "He gets settled in, that's it."

Shortstop Stephen Drew had two of Arizona's four hits on the night, including a double off the top of the wall in the sixth inning. He advanced to third on a passed ball, but that was as far as he would get. Jason Kubel struck out on a full count, and Paul Goldschmidt grounded out to end the inning.

For Halladay, it was his first win since May 17. Between May 28 and July 17, he spent seven weeks on the disabled list with a strained right latissimus dorsi and had mixed results in his three prior starts since his return.

"As long as the movement's there and I feel like I can beat guys with it at times, that's the important thing," said Halladay, who improved to 5-6 on the season. "I'm trying not to get too caught up in the whole [losing] velocity thing. For me, if I can see the movement and the swings I'm getting off the barrel, that's what's important to me."

He certainly wasn't the only pitcher with a good performance, though. Saunders (5-8) pitched effectively into the seventh and allowed just two runs on six hits. The veteran left-hander struck out three and walked two.

Saunders exited the game with one out in the seventh after surrendering back-to-back singles to Nate Schierholtz and pinch-hitter Ty Wigginton. Sidearmer Brad Ziegler came in and got Jimmy Rollins to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Through three innings, the only hit that Saunders surrendered was Kratz's homer. After getting the first two outs in the fourth, however, he ran into a bit of trouble.

Saunders gave up a single to Ryan Howard, a double to John Mayberry Jr. and a walk to Domonic Brown during a 10-pitch at-bat, loading the bases. On a 3-1 count, Saunders missed outside with a fastball to Kratz to walk in a run. He then struck out Schierholtz to end the inning.

"My career numbers against Roy are probably not that good," Saunders said. "I think I'm 0-4 with like a 2.00 ERA against that guy. It seems like he brings his 'A' game against me for some reason. ... I just tried to keep us in the game as best I could."

But ultimately, it was the D-backs' bats that betrayed the team. Arizona couldn't get anything going from the batter's box, leading to its first defeat since Sunday, when it lost to Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Now with a 4-1 record halfway through an important road trip, the D-backs will look to bounce back on Sunday and win their first series in Philadelphia in more than five years.

"We're still having a good road trip. It's one loss," Johnson said. "We still have a chance to take the series. That guy's pretty good, so you just give it up to him. He did well. [We] give him the credit and come out tomorrow and try to get the 'W.'"

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