The San Diego Padres are feeling the pressure of chasing a playoff berth while being chased for one.
San Diego will try to move closer to first place in its division while trying to extend its wild card lead as it faces the Cincinnati Reds in the middle game of a three-game set on Wednesday.
The Padres (74-69) lost 5-4 in 11 innings to the Reds (72-72) on Tuesday, but stayed 1 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Dodgers after Los Angeles lost 9-8 in 11 innings to the Chicago Cubs.
San Diego, which won the West outright last year, leads San Francisco and Florida by 1 1/2 games, Philadelphia by 2 and Cincinnati by 2 1/2 for the wild card.
“You’d figure at this point you’d be getting some clear scenarios for some teams, but that’s just not the case,” said Padres catcher Mike Piazza, who hit his 21st homer to lead major league catchers. “We just have to hang in there. Teams can pick up ground or lose ground quickly.”
Reds manager Jerry Narron said his team needs to keep its focus on winning the NL Central.
“Everybody has a shot at (the NL wild card),” Narron said. “We just have to win our own games and not worry about it. The only thing I look at is the Cardinals.
“If they lose, we’ve got a shot. We have to win five more than they do the rest of the way. (But) When you have wild card teams playing against each other, you don’t know who to pull for or pull against.”
Cincinnati remained five games behind Central-leading St. Louis after the Cardinals posted a 6-5 win Tuesday. The Reds and Cardinals, though, will not face each other again in the regular season.
Jason LaRue’s walkoff homer with one out in the 11th inning Tuesday lifted the Reds to just their fifth win in 16 games.
“People talk about how this is the biggest series of the year, but it’s not going to mean anything if we win the series and then (self-destruct) the rest of the way,” LaRue said.
San Diego’s Clay Hensley (8-11, 3.87 ERA) turned in one of his best starts in his last appearance, but had nothing to show for it. The right-hander limited Colorado to three hits, walked five and struck out five over seven innings in the Padres’ 2-0 win in 11 innings on Sept. 6, completing a three-game sweep.
Hensley has allowed one earned run in his last 28 innings.
He lost his only career appearance against the Reds on Sept. 1. Hensley allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings a 6-2 loss.
Hensley was 0-5 with a 6.66 ERA in nine road starts before winning at Colorado on Aug. 26.
Cincinnati’s Kyle Lohse (2-2, 2.96) will try to win his third straight home start. Acquired from Minnesota on July 31, he’s allowed one earned run over 15 innings in his last two starts for an 0.60 ERA.
He snapped a two-start skid on Friday when allowed a run and seven hits through seven innings of a 9-1 romp over Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park.
“My sinker or two-seamer or whatever you want to call it was working,” Lohse said. “I was able to come in on them and run it up the ladder on them. It was one of those nights where I was able to put the ball where I wanted to and change speeds.”
The right-hander took the loss against the Padres on Sept. 2, giving up four runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-1 loss.
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