Fresh off their first sweep in over two months, the Pirates look to start changing that Thursday night when they open a four-game series against the lowly Padres.
The Pirates (47-54) have won only two of the last 14 meetings with the Padres (38-64), dating to August 2005. They went 1-6 in the season series in 2007, getting outscored 32-11 in losing the last six matchups.
Pittsburgh now looks to take advantage of the Padres, owners of the worst record in baseball and losers of eight of their last nine, in order to end that slide.
The Pirates enter this series coming off a three-game sweep at Houston, capped by an 8-7 win Wednesday. It was their first sweep since taking three games from San Francisco from May 6-8, and followed a four-game series at Colorado in which Pittsburgh was swept.
“To do that here, especially coming from Colorado, was a big boost for us,” Pirates manager John Russell said.
Jason Bay was a key part of sweeping the Astros, going 7-for-14 with two homers and five RBIs in the series, including a two-run shot Wednesday.
The left fielder will try to continue his hot hitting against the Padres at home, where he’s 15-for-38 (.395) with five homers and nine RBIs in 12 career games against them.
Herrera was pounded again Saturday, giving up seven runs and eight hits while hitting a batter in 1 2-3 innings of a 7-1 loss at Colorado. That performance came after the Cuban right-hander was hit hard in his major league debut, allowing six runs and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 12-11, 10-inning win over St. Louis on July 12.
“I’m trying to do better when I go out to the mound,” Herrera told the Pirates’ official Web site through teammate Denny Bautista, who translated for him. “It’s a big chance to be here in the big leagues and face those guys. I try to just take a moment and look at what I’m doing wrong in the inning. If you make a mistake, you have to learn from your mistake.”
San Diego lost 9-5 at Cincinnati on Wednesday to fall to 1-6 during its season-high 11-game road trip. Its bullpen has an 8.69 ERA over the last seven games, and ranks last in the NL with a 4.53 ERA on the season.
Hensley, getting his first start since Aug. 25 of last year, has been impressive in three relief outings, allowing one hit in five scoreless innings. He pitched two innings to earn the win in Monday’s 6-4 victory at Cincinnati.
The right-hander went 2-3 with a 7.17 ERA in nine starts last season before undergoing shoulder surgery in September. He’s 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA in two games — one start—against the Pirates.