Greene, who has developed into one of the league’s best defensive shortstops, hit two homers and drove in four runs as San Diego (2-4) had its best game of the season at the plate Tuesday in a 9-4 win over Florida.
“I don’t expect to be at the top at the end of the year,” said Greene, who grew up in Key West, Fla. “When I hit home runs, they tend to come in bunches. I’ve gone a long time without hitting any homers.”
Greene already has four home runs, a total he didn’t reach last season until June 25 in his 52nd game. He begins play tied with St. Louis’ Pujols, Cincinnati’s Adam Dunn and Houston’s Preston Wilson and Lance Berkman for the NL lead.
Pujols has hit more than 40 homers each of the last three seasons. Dunn has averaged 43 homers over the last two seasons, and Wilson and Berkman are both six-time 20-home run hitters. Bonds has yet to homer this season, but holds the single-record record with 73 in 2001, and has 708 for his career.
Greene entered this year having hit 15 homers in each of his first two full major league seasons.
Padres manager Bruce Bochy believes Greene is developing into a consistent longball threat.
“He’s got some pop,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “Khalil is going to be an offensive shortstop. He’s going to supply some power.”
First-year Marlins manager Joe Girardi said his young pitching staff, which includes eight players with fewer than three years’ experience, also needs to be careful when facing Greene.
“Their young shortstop has power,” Girardi said. “And we didn’t pitch him the way we’re supposed to.”
The Padres had scored a league-low 19 runs in five games before Tuesday.
The Marlins (1-5) also have a budding star at shortstop. Hanley Ramirez has hit safely in all six games this season and leads all rookies with 11 hits, including two triples.
Chris Young will make his second National League start when he takes the hill for San Diego.
The 6-foot-10 right-hander and former college basketball player at Princeton did not get a decision Friday against Colorado. He gave up four runs and two homers over 5 1-3 innings in a 10-4 loss.
Young, acquired in the deal that sent Adam Eaton to Texas, led the Rangers with 137 strikeouts and was second with 12 wins in 2005.
Girardi will send one his few veteran pitchers to the mound when Brian Moehler makes his second start. Moehler’s 2006 debut was a forgettable one as he tossed just 31 pitches over two innings, getting tagged for six runs and six hits last Wednesday in a 6-5 loss to Houston.
Moehler is 1-7 with a 4.24 ERA in 19 games, including 15 starts, at Dolphin Stadium.
Florida has dropped four in a row after a 1-1 start.