They may be a game under .500, but the San Diego Padres are one win away from being NL West champions.
The Padres look to clinch their first division title since 1998 when they continue a four-game series against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park.
San Diego reduced its magic number to clinch the division to two with a 9-6 victory on Tuesday. Ramon Hernandez belted a go-ahead grand slam in the fourth inning and finished with a career-high seven RBIs as the Padres snapped out of a brief hitting slump.
After going 5-for-61 in two straight losses, San Diego pounded out 11 hits on Tuesday.
The Padres have missed the postseason six straight seasons since being swept by the New York Yankees in the 1998 World Series.
Hernandez’s heroics overshadowed Barry Bonds’ 708th career homer, a three-run shot in the first inning off Padres starter Adam Eaton that gave the Giants an early lead. Bonds snapped a 0-for-11 skid, but San Francisco fell to 9-3 in his starts this season.
It also marked the first loss for San Francisco in the five games that the seven-time NL MVP has homered this season.
Giants center fielder Randy Winn went 3-for-5 on Tuesday to continue his recent tear. Winn is 10-for-15 with six runs scored in his last three games.
Veteran Pedro Astacio seeks to win his fourth straight decision for San Diego. Astacio is 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA over his last six starts since losing to Cincinnati on July 30.
This will be the right-hander’s first start of the season against San Francisco. He is 4-3 with a 5.14 ERA in 14 career outings against the Giants, including 12 starts.
Bonds is hitting .345 (10-for-29) with four homers and seven RBIs lifetime against Astacio.
Ailing ace Jason Schmidt, who has not pitched since Sept. 17 due to a mild right groin strain, will get the start with San Francisco’s season on the line. He was forced out after five innings in that start, giving up one run and two hits and failing to receive a decision in a 2-1 win over Los Angeles.
Because of the groin problems, the right-hander’s velocity was significantly down in that game and the Giants don’t know what to expect on Wednesday.
“He tweaked it warming up and didn’t say anything, and tried to go out and do it,” San Francisco pitching coach Dave Righetti said. “The change was drastic from the way he was throwing in the bullpen.”
Schmidt is 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in three starts against the Padres this season. He is 10-7 with a 4.64 ERA in 23 career outings against San Diego.