San Diego’s normally pedestrian offense is finding ways to manufacture runs in Pittsburgh.
Wade LeBlanc(notes), winless in six weeks despite a string of solid outings, hopes the lineup can continue its sudden surge when he takes the mound for the NL West-leading Padres in Sunday’s series finale against the Pirates.
San Diego’s rise to the top of the NL has had little to do with its offense. The Padres (57-39), who have won seven of nine and own a three-game lead over second-place San Francisco in the West, lead the majors with a 3.28 ERA.
The offense hasn’t been as strong, ranking 11th in the NL in runs (4.4 per game) and 13th in both batting average (.253) and homers (77), but it’s plated 14 runs while winning the first two games of this series. Of those runs, only two scored on an extra-base hit - a double by Oscar Salazar(notes) in Saturday’s 9-2 victory.
“That’s kind of what we’ve been able to do for the most part all year,” third baseman Chase Headley(notes) said. “We’re not a club that’s going to hit ton of homers, hit a ton of doubles. But we find a way to get runners on, get them over and when we do we’re usually able to get them in.”
They haven’t been able to do much of that for LeBlanc (4-8, 3.28 ERA).
The left-hander is 0-4 in six starts since beating Seattle on June 12, despite posting a 3.68 ERA in that span. The Padres have backed him with a 1.72 run-support average in those outings - the worst in the NL over that period.
San Diego again didn’t muster much offense in Atlanta on Tuesday, as LeBlanc allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, but was saddled with a 4-1 loss. It marked LeBlanc’s fourth quality start since his last victory.
“In the end, those even out,” LeBlanc told the Padres’ official website. “My job is to keep the team close.”
LeBlanc gave up a run and five hits in five innings of an 11-6, 11-inning win over the Pirates on Sept. 21, his only career start versus Pittsburgh.
The Padres, who took Friday’s opener 5-3, are now assured of winning all 10 series they’ve played at PNC Park since its opening in 2001, and have a chance to record their first sweep there.
Staked to a nine-run lead after one inning Tuesday against Milwaukee, the right-hander quickly fell apart, allowing career highs of seven runs and nine hits in 2 1-3 innings of an 11-9 Pirates victory.
“That game never should have gotten to the point it did,” he said. “I guess you could say I got comfortable out there. That’s not the way to go about things and it hurt me.”
Lincoln, who has never faced San Diego, has now yielded at least five runs in five of his eight major league starts.