The San Diego Padres failed to take advantage during a road trip last week against the two worst teams in the NL West. Facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, though, gives them a good opportunity to build some momentum before a big division showdown.
The Padres look to win their seventh straight against the NL-worst Pirates when the West leaders begin a three-game series Tuesday night at Petco Park.
After splitting four games last week in Los Angeles, the Padres (64-46) were in danger of being swept by last-place Arizona. However, Mat Latos(notes) pitched six scoreless innings in a 10-1 rout Sunday that helped San Diego keep its two-game lead over second-place San Francisco.
“We had a pretty rough series and we battled real well,” Latos said. “It was really important to get this win right here.”
While the Padres were held to seven runs in the four losses on their trip, they’ve had little problem scoring against the Pirates (39-72). San Diego has outscored Pittsburgh 37-15 during a six-game winning streak, and 20-8 while taking a three-game set from July 23-25.
“This is the time of he year where the older guys show the younger guys that this is no time to panic,” he told the Padres’ official website.
Wade LeBlanc(notes) (5-10, 3.61 ERA) gets the start for San Diego in Tuesday’s opener, and he could benefit from some greater offensive output. The Padres have scored two runs during his last two starts, and have provided him with two or fewer runs in six of his last seven outings.
LeBlanc is 1-6 with a 4.23 ERA in his last nine starts with the victory coming over the Pirates last month. The left-hander gave up four runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings Wednesday in a 9-0 loss to the Dodgers.
Pittsburgh, which opens a six-game swing, has dropped 28 of its last 32 on the road including a 17-game slide from May 26-June 27, a six-game losing streak going into the All-Star break and a current four-game losing streak.
“It seemed like every time I threw a good pitch, they’d foul it off,” Maholm said. “And then I’d make a mistake and leave one over the middle.”
Since beating Cleveland, the right-hander and San Diego native is 0-5 with a 4.17 ERA in eight starts. Karstens gave up three runs and nine hits in five innings of a 9-4 loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday.
Karstens is 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA in three career appearances including one start versus the Padres.