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ARI@MIA: Saunders shuts down Marlins in complete game

Two of the top six pitchers in terms of ERA in the National League will meet at Chase Field on Monday, when the D-backs and the Cardinals clash.

But they might not be the names most would expect.

D-backs lefty Joe Saunders and Cardinals righty Lance Lynn have produced staggering numbers to start their seasons.

Saunders comes into his second start of May with a 1.24 ERA and a quality start streak of five. He finished April with an NL-best 0.90 ERA after hurling a shutout against the Marlins on April 27.

"I was making good pitches, and I was just fortunate for them to hit the ball at my defense, and my defense was awesome," Saunders said after the game. "The more pitches I threw, the more loose it got, so as the inning went on, I felt like I got stronger and I could actually push off."

Even though Saunders's ERA rose to 1.24 in his last start against the Nationals, the veteran pitched well enough to win, allowing two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings. He took the no-decision, however, when D-backs closer J.J. Putz served up a walk-off homer in the ninth.

Lynn, in the other dugout, is continuing to build off his strong rookie season from last year. The 24-year-old boasted a 3.12 ERA with the Cardinals in 2011, making 18 appearances but only starting twice.

The sophomore's permanent move into St. Louis' rotation in 2012 has been met with dominating results so far.

Leading the league with five wins, Lynn allowed just one earned run in each of his first four starts before surrendering two his last time out against the Pirates over 6 2/3 innings and six strikeouts.

"All I'm trying to do is help us win when I'm out there," Lynn said after the game. "We have five wins when I'm pitching, so that's good."

Lynn faced the D-backs twice last season, both relief appearances in which he allowed just two combined hits over three innings.

Cardinals: Berkman confident in Pujols
Former Albert Pujols teammate Lance Berkman said he anticipates the ex-Cardinal turned Angel to be among the most feared hitters in the American League before the year is out, despite the .194 start.

"It's a six-month season," Berkman said. "I know that there are going to be some pitchers in the American League who are not going to want to see him. He'll do like he did last year. He got off to a real rough start here and he ended up hitting 37 home runs and driving in right at 100 and hitting right at .300. So I imagine that he's going to be right there."

D-backs: Putz bounces back
After Putz gave up a two-run walk-off homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Nationals on Wednesday, he could not wait to get back on the mound again.

He got that chance Friday and locked down a save with a perfect inning vs. the Mets.

"It's always good," Putz said. "Once you let the team down, you want to get back out there as soon as possible."

The results pleased and reassured D-backs manager Kirk Gibson.

"Threw the ball good," Gibson said. "Got us out of it. That's what we're looking for. I was happy to see him just back out there. I know he doesn't like what happened the other night in Washington. It was good to get him back out there and to get his sixth save."

Worth noting
• The Cardinals have scored in the opening inning in each of their last six games, including two times Sunday.

• The D-backs open a six-game homestand Monday. They went 3-7 in their last stay at Chase Field. Comments