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Originally published Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 4:12 PM

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Kubel homers twice, Diamondbacks defeat Pirates

Jason Kubel homered twice, Joe Saunders pitched seven effective innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 on Thursday.

The Associated Press

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PITTSBURGH —

Jason Kubel homered twice, Joe Saunders pitched seven effective innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 on Thursday.

Both of Kubel's home runs immediately followed hits by Aaron Hill. Wil Nieves also hit a two-run homer in his Diamondbacks debut.

Saunders (6-8) retired 14 consecutive batters in the middle innings. He allowed two earned runs on seven hits with no walks. The Diamondbacks had lost five of his previous six starts.

J.J. Putz pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save of the season. He's converted 12 chances in a row.

Hill had three hits and Chris Johnson had two as Arizona completed a 6-4 road trip.

Gaby Sanchez had three hits for the Pirates.

After hitting an NL-high 11 home runs during July, Kubel was slumping enough recently - 5 for 40 going into the game - that Arizona manager Kirk Gibson considered on sitting him for the final two games of this series. But the ejections of Chris Young and Justin Upton on Wednesday forced Kubel into the game late, and he was back in the lineup Thursday.

Kubel moved into third in the NL with his 24th and 25th home runs. He has nine career multihomer games, including hitting three July 21 against Houston. Kubel homered in the first and seventh innings to open and close the game's scoring.

After the Pirates took the lead with a three-run second, Nieves put Arizona ahead 4-3 when he homered with Johnson on base in the sixth. Nieves connected off Wandy Rodriguez (7-11) for his second home run of the season.

Claimed off waivers from Colorado on Monday, Nieves was playing for the first time since July 8. He was 2 for 4.

Rodriguez (7-11) allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings. He is winless in three starts since the Pirates acquired him from the Houston Astros for three prospects on July 24.

Pittsburgh's runs came on RBI singles by Michael McKenry and Marte and a sacrifice fly by Jordy Mercer.

NOTES: Arizona SS Willie Bloomquist was scratched from the lineup just before game time because of a stiff back. Stephen Drew took his place in the leadoff spot. ... The Diamondbacks have won 13 of their past 19 when facing a left-handed starter. ... McKenry has a nine-game hitting streak. ... Arizona had scored at least five runs 57 times, most in the NL. ... Pittsburgh continues its season-long 11-game homestand with three games against San Diego Friday through Monday. The Padres are the only NL team the Pirates have yet to play this season. ... Arizona returns home for a weekend series against the Washington Nationals - the only three home games the Diamondbacks will play over a span of three weeks.

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