The San Diego Padres don’t get another day off for two weeks. They just hope to still have games to play after the next one.
Having recently blown a sizable division lead, the Padres want their first day off in nearly three weeks to jump-start a final push at the NL West crown going into a three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers starting Tuesday night.
Leading the West by 6 1/2 games on Aug. 26, San Diego (83-66) heads to Dodger Stadium trailing first-place San Francisco by a half-game. An off day Monday precedes this series opener, which marks the first of 13 games in 13 days for the Padres to close the regular season - the last three are against the Giants from Oct. 1-3.
“You can’t go home and get comfortable and relax,” starter Jon Garland(notes) said of the day off, the Padres’ first since Sept. 2. “We’ve got to win every game, that’s the way we’ve got to look at it.”
This series caps a 10-game road trip for San Diego, which has dropped seven of 11 and is 7-17 since having that 6 1/2-game lead.
“We’re in a position to continue to make this a great race and we’ve got to focus on our next game, which we will,” manager Bud Black said.
The former pitching coach has seen his rotation go 1-5 with a 9.00 ERA in the last eight games.
Clayton Richard(notes) (12-8, 3.70 ERA) is coming off his shortest outing of the year as he heads back to the mound. The left-hander allowed a career-high eight earned runs and 11 hits in three innings of a 9-6 loss at Colorado on Wednesday.
Richard had a 1.64 ERA in his previous six outings. However, the Padres have lost his last four starts, and he’s 0-3 in that span to match the longest losing streak of his career.
San Diego is 4-0 when Richard starts against the Dodgers, and he’s gone 3-0 with a 3.57 ERA.
The Padres are coming off a series against St. Louis in which Will Venable(notes) went 10 for 15, but Adrian Gonzalez(notes) was 3 for 14 and the team lost three of four. Gonzalez leads the Padres with 29 home runs but has homered in only one of his last 23 games.
While a day off may help Gonzalez, Dodgers manager Joe Torre and successor Don Mattingly might be tired after theirs. They traveled to Yankee Stadium for the unveiling of a monument honoring George Steinbrenner.
With 12 games left before giving way to Mattingly, Torre is trying to get Los Angeles (73-77) to avoid its first losing season since 2005.
The Dodgers are relegated to playing spoilers and didn’t do a great job last week, losing two of three to both San Francisco and Colorado.
Kemp is 5 for 10 versus Richard, but no current Dodger has ever homered against him.
Scheduled Los Angeles starter Chad Billingsley(notes) (11-10, 3.55) has given up one homer in his last 17 outings. It’s walks that have caused him problems, issuing 14 in four games as he’s gone 1-3 despite a 2.73 ERA.
The Dodgers have provided him no runs of support in his last two outings, including one at San Diego on Sept. 8 when he gave up four runs and five walks in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-0 defeat. That’s the most runs any team has scored off Billingsley in the past two months, but he’s 10-6 with a 2.68 ERA lifetime versus the Padres.
Gonzalez has three hits in his last 21 at-bats against Billingsley.