The struggling San Diego Padres have had to rely on strong pitching for their last two wins.
Now, they hope their offense can produce as they close out a three-game series against the Washington Nationals at Petco Park on Wednesday.
San Diego (14-13) used eight three-hit innings from starter Chris Young to pull out a 3-0 win on Tuesday, but the offense struggled again, managing only four hits. Despite the win, the Padres are batting just .224 thus far.
“It’s become a trend here, hasn’t it?” said Padres center fielder Brian Giles, who singled and scored in the fourth inning.
Rookie Kevin Kouzmanoff, batting just .122 (9-for-74), hit an RBI triple in the seventh inning to break out of a 1-for-23 slump. It was his first major league triple and his first extra-base hit in 31 at-bats at Petco Park.
“He’s got too good of a swing. It’s not going to last all year. He’ll start hitting. Us veteran guys need to take a little pressure off of him,” Giles said.
The Padres are hitting just .193 in their last seven games—winning just two—and were not particularly impressive offensively in those victories. San Diego had just six runs and 10 hits in those games, but its pitchers limited opponents to just two runs and nine hits.
Before the seven-game slump, San Diego had scored 41 runs and batted .333 in winning four of its previous five games.
The Padres offense probably won’t get a boost from second baseman Marcus Giles, who is expected to miss his third straight game Wednesday with a rib cage injury. Giles, who is batting .327 this year and .317 at Petco Park, could return for the team’s series opener at Florida on Friday.
Despite the loss, the Nationals (9-18) still have a chance to win a series in San Diego for the first time since 2001, when the franchise was known as the Montreal Expos, and the Padres were playing at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Nationals are also seeking their first series win of 2007. They have split two-game sets against the New York Mets, Atlanta and Philadelphia, but have not won a series since taking two of three from Philadelphia from Sept. 26-28.
Washington was shut out for the second time in its last three games and held to three runs or less for the 18th time. The Nationals are 2-16 in those games, though one of those victories was a 3-2 win in Monday’s series opener.
“We are looking for solutions,” Acta told the team’s official Web site. “We are trying to create something offensively.”
Washington will send rookie left-hander Matt Chico (2-2, 5.70 ERA) to the mound. On Friday, Chico allowed two runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings to earn the win in the Nationals’ 4-3 victory over the Mets.
He has never pitched against the Padres.
Clay Hensley (1-3, 7.86) gets the ball for San Diego in search of his third straight quality start. Hensley went 0-3 with a 12.21 ERA in his first three starts of the year, but is 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA in his last two outings.
He held the Los Angeles Dodgers to two runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings on Friday, but the Padres lost 6-5 after the bullpen gave up four runs in the ninth inning.
Hensley has not had a decision in three games, including one start, while posting a 7.56 ERA against the Nationals.