Pittsburgh (65-90) at San Diego (82-72)

Fair Currently: San Diego, CA
Temp: 75° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sun Sep 24, 2006
  • TV: FSPI, Ch4
Preview | Box Score | Recap

When the San Diego Padres leave Petco Field on Sunday following the end of their three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, they are hoping it isn’t for the last time this season.

San Diego (82-72) has a 1 1/2 -game lead in the NL West after Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Pirates (65-90) and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 9-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks

The Padres have won eight of their last 11 due in large part its starting staff, which is 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA over that span, and includes solid starts over the weekend by Chris Young and Jake Peavy.

After Young came within two outs of the first no-hitter in franchise history Friday, Peavy allowed just one run and six hits in eight innings on Saturday. He also struck out 11, bringing his total to 208 for the season—eight shy of his career-high set last year.

Trevor Hoffman overshadowed Peavy’s effort on Saturday, however, pitching a perfect ninth inning to record his 478th career save, tying him with Lee Smith for the all-time lead.

The 38-year-old closer said breaking the record isn’t as important as what happens to the team over its final seven games.

“I know I’ll be more relieved when we clinch a playoff spot,” Hoffman said. “And I truly mean that. I’m not trying to deflect the attention from what’s going on, and there’s a lot of pressure involved in a pennant drive and preserving wins, let alone what it means to a major league record.”

San Diego is looking to make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history. The Padres were swept in three games by the St. Louis Cardinals in last year’s NL division series, and have re-emerged this season with a pitching staff, which has allowed just 650 runs—fewest in the NL.

“They’ve been good all year,” rookie second baseman Josh Barfield said. “Without them, we’re way under .500 and not where we are right now. That’s why I think if we get into the playoffs we’ll be a tough team to beat, because of our pitching staff.”

The Padres will finish the season with three games in St. Louis and three in Arizona.

Clay Hensley (10-11, 3.81 ERA) hopes to continue the rotation’s success and win three straight starts for the first time in his career. The right-hander gave up just two runs for the second straight outing in a 5-2 win over Arizona on Tuesday.

“Clay was ready,” Hoffman said. “He attacked them (and) was aggressive in the strike zone.”

Hensley is making his first career start against the Pirates. He pitched 1 2-3 perfect innings of relief against them last season, striking out one.

Former Padre Matt McLeary (1-0, 4.76) will make his first career start for Pittsburgh. The right-hander has made three relief appearances this season—all against the Chicago Cubs—allowing five runs in 5 2-3 innings.

McLeary had no record and 14.73 ERA in three relief appearances with San Diego in 2004.

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Starting Pitchers

M. McLeary Mil vs. C. Hensley Cin
2-0 Record 11-12
2.04 ERA 3.71
8 K 122
6 BB 76
1.30 WHIP 1.34

Scoreboard

Sunday, Sep 24