Interleague play is not suiting the San Diego Padres well.
The slumping NL West leaders try to halt their longest losing streak of the season Wednesday night when they continue their three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Less than a week ago, the Padres (36-27) were playing their best ball of 2007, completing a season-high five-game winning streak Thursday when they wrapped up a three-game sweep of the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers. However, they have followed that up with their first four-game skid of the year - all against AL opponents.
After a three-game sweep at home by Seattle over the weekend, San Diego fell 11-4 to the Devil Rays (29-33) in Tuesday night’s series opener.
The Padres are just 2-5 in interleague play this season, although they remain ahead of Arizona by percentage points in the NL West after the Diamondbacks fell 4-1 to the New York Yankees on Tuesday.
“It looks bad when you lose a few in a row,” said Greg Maddux, who started for San Diego and squandered a pair of leads Tuesday. “There’s not one area you can point to. It’s a combination.”
In an effort to avoid dropping five in a row for the first time since April 24-29, 2006, the Padres will send ace Jake Peavy (7-1, 1.97 ERA) to the mound. The right-hander was on the mound for San Diego’s last victory, but did not receive a decision Thursday as the Padres used a five-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Dodgers 6-5.
Peavy gave up four runs, seven hits and three walks in 6 2-3 innings - his second straight outing allowing three runs or more after doing so only twice in his first 11 starts. The relative rough stretch has dropped Peavy into second place behind Oakland’s Dan Haren (1.58) for the major league ERA lead.
Peavy, 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA in five road starts this season, has never faced the Devil Rays.
Tampa Bay rallied from behind three times Tuesday night before Carlos Pena’s grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning put the game out of reach. The Devil Rays lead the majors with 20 comeback wins - comprising nearly 70 percent of their overall victory total.
“That was a lot of fun to go out there and really give our pitching staff a lot of room to work with,” said Pena, who also had an RBI double in the seventh.
The win was the third in a row for the Rays, who are looking to match their season-best four-game run from May 13-17. Tampa Bay has totaled 27 runs during the current streak, and is averaging 8.1 runs while batting .320 over the last seven contests.
Edwin Jackson (0-7, 7.39) looks for some help from the offense as he tries again for his first win of 2007. While the right-hander has pitched poorly, his 3.44 run support average is also the lowest among starters for the Devil Rays.
Jackson produced only his third quality start of the season Thursday at Toronto, when he gave up three runs and four hits over six innings of Tampa Bay’s 5-3 victory.
He is 0-0 with a 4.00 ERA in three career appearances, including one start, versus the Padres - all while pitching for the Dodgers from 2003-05.