Arizona (47-108) at San Diego (84-71)

Partly Cloudy Currently: San Diego, CA
Temp: 65° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sun Sep 26, 2004
  • TV: KTVK, Ch4
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The San Diego Padres’ playoff hopes are slim, but still worth fighting for.

That’s the reason Jake Peavy will be pitching on three-days’ rest for the first time in his career when the Padres close out a three-game series with the major league-worst Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park.

On Saturday, Ryan Klesko’s go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning gave San Diego a 6-5 win over Arizona. The victory pulled the Padres within 3 1/2 games of Chicago in the wild-card race, with Houston and San Francisco also ahead of them. San Diego is 4 1/2 games behind first-place Los Angeles in the NL West.

Peavy, in his second full season in the majors, has emerged as one of the top young pitchers in the NL. He combined with Akinori Otsuka on a three-hit shutout in a 4-0 win over Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Peavy was dominant, allowing only three hits in eight innings while matching his career high with 11 strikeouts. The 23-year-old right-hander lowered his ERA to 2.28, which would lead the league if he had the required minimum number of innings. He has already surpassed his win total from last year, when he finished 12-11.

Peavy, who has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 21 of 25 starts, needs to go 7 2-3 innings by season’s end to qualify for the ERA title. Minnesota’s Johan Santana currently leads the majors with a 2.62 ERA.

“If it comes about, that would be awesome,” Peavy said. ”(But) the most important thing is trying to win these ballgames.”

Despite his success this year, Peavy has not done well against the Diamondbacks during his career, going 1-6 with a 10.91 ERA in seven starts.

Arizona, which has dropped five straight and 17 of 23 games in September, will send Steve Sparks to the mound.

The veteran knuckleballer will be making his first start since July 19 because the Diamondbacks needed a starter after Tuesday’s game at Coors Field was postponed due to rain, forcing a doubleheader Thursday.

“Sparky is our best option,” Diamondbacks manager Al Pedrique said. “He’s done a great job out of the pen and he’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do.”

Sparks has worked just six innings—all in relief—since Aug. 13.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Sparks Hou vs. J. Peavy SF
3-7 Record 15-6
6.04 ERA 2.27
57 K 173
45 BB 53
1.52 WHIP 1.20