Wells makes his first appearance since joining the Padres on Sunday as they wrap up their three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds at Petco Park.
San Diego (69-66) defeated the Reds 7-1 on Saturday after losing Friday’s series opener 6-2. The Padres, who won the NL West last season, lead Philadelphia by one game in the wild-card race, but trail the Los Angeles Dodgers by four games for the division lead.
San Diego, which has won eight of its last 12 games, acquired Wells (2-3, 4.98 ERA in AL) from Boston on Thursday.
Wells has made only eight starts this season after three stints on the disabled list due to right knee problems, but has been stellar in his five August outings.
Since returning from the DL on July 31, Wells is 2-2 with a 2.65 ERA.
“They have an opportunity to win here,” said Wells, who went 12-8 with a 3.73 ERA for the Padres in 2004. “It’s just an opportunity to pitch and try to help a team win and go into the playoffs. That’s when I shine. I’ve done it my whole career. I love the ball in a big game. I’m not afraid to take it, I’m not afraid to fail, I’m not afraid to lose and I love to win.
“As long as I’ve been pitching as well as I have, hopefully I can make a difference here and help these guys win a pennant.”
The 43-year-old left-hander is 21-9 with a 3.70 ERA in 39 September starts since 1998, and has been even more outstanding in postseason play.
He’s pitched in the playoffs 10 times for five clubs—Boston, the New York Yankees, Toronto, Cincinnati and Baltimore, with a career record of 10-4 and a 3.15 ERA. He won World Series rings with the Blue Jays in 1992 and the Yankees in 1998.
Wells is 3-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four career games against the Reds (68-68), for whom he pitched in 1995.
Rookie second baseman Josh Barfield hit a two-run homer on Saturday for the Padres, while Dave Roberts had a two-run single. Roberts is 10-for-23 (.435) in his last five games with two triples and five RBIs.
San Diego’s Jake Peavy threw a two-hitter Saturday, as the Reds lost for the seventh time in eight games and fell 1 1/2 games back in the wild-card race.
“If (Dunn) doesn’t hit that ball, we might have had a no-hitter against us,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “Richie got a hit, but I don’t remember another ball hit hard.”
Dunn is batting .333 (11-for-33) with five homers and 12 RBIs in eight career games at Petco Park, his highest batting average at any NL stadium.
Cincinnati has won just two games on its 10-game road trip, which concludes Sunday with Eric Milton (8-7, 5.16) on the mound seeking his first win since Aug. 8.
The Reds have gone 3-1 in Milton’s last four starts, but the left-hander hasn’t recorded a decision that span. He gave up four runs and six hits in five innings of a 6-5, 16-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
Milton has pitched better on the road then at home this season, compiling a 5-1 record with a 4.57 ERA in 10 starts away from Great American Ball Park.
Milton is 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA in two career starts against the Padres—both at Petco Park.