The San Diego Padres continue their pursuit of first place in the NL West by trying to fend off a couple of teams pursuing them.
Boasting a five-game winning streak, the Padres begin perhaps their most important stretch of the regular season’s final month Friday with a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants.
After their series at AT&T Park, the NL wild-card leading Padres (73-66) continue a 10-game road trip in Cincinnati with a three-game series against the Reds before concluding it with a four-game set against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Padres lead San Francisco (70-70) by three games and Cincinnati by 4 1/2 in the wild-card race. They’re one-half game behind the Dodgers after Los Angeles’ 7-0 loss to the NL-East leading New York Mets on Thursday.
San Diego, looking to avenge a four-game sweep at home by San Francisco from Aug. 14-17, has gotten clutch play from some rookies lately.
Rookie Paul McAnulty hit his first homer, a two-run shot with one out in the 11th inning, to lift the Padres to a 2-0 win Wednesday over the Colorado Rockies. McAnulty hit 19 homers at Triple-A Portland this year.
Padres rookie sidearmer Cla Meredith pitched 1 2-3 innings to extend his scoreless innings streak to 29—over 25 appearances—and break the franchise record for a reliever. Mark Davis set the old mark of 27 2-3 innings in 1988, and the overall franchise record is 30 by Randy Jones in 1980.
“The kid’s been incredible,” said Padres manager Bruce Bochy, whose team has won seven of eight.
On Monday night, rookie Josh Barfield hit a three-run homer in the ninth to give San Diego a 7-5 win.
The right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts against the Giants this season, and 8-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 17 lifetime starts. Peavy has struggled against San Francisco’s Shea Hillenbrand, who is 7-for-14 with two home runs, a double and six RBIs against him.
The Giants, who play 12 of their final 23 games at home, are facing the Padres for the last time this season. They lead the season series 10-5.
“We’re going to play for a lot at home,” said Giants manager Felipe Alou, whose team has won eight of its last 12. “The players understand this is serious stuff. They put themselves in position to challenge for first place and the wild card.”
Ray Durham homered twice for the Giants in a 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. He is batting .314 (16-for-51) with three home runs and 10 RBIs against San Diego this season.
“Once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen,” Durham said. “All we’re asking for is that opportunity.”
Matt Cain (11-9, 4.11 ERA) will look to continue his hot streak for the Giants. The 21-year-old is 3-0 with a 0.33 ERA in his last four starts and limited the Chicago Cubs to an unearned run while striking out seven in 7 2-3 innings of a 4-2 win.
“That kid is something special,” Alou said.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts against the Padres this season, and 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in four career outings against them.