The Pittsburgh Pirates would seem to have a good chance at ending the longest losing streak of their surprising season with a last-place team set to visit.
The San Diego Padres, though, have designs on extending their winning streak at PNC Park.
Looking to avoid an eighth consecutive defeat, the Pirates meet the Padres on Friday night for the first of three games.
Pittsburgh, which has had 18 straight losing seasons since its last playoff appearance, was a season-high seven games over .500 on July 19 and moved atop the NL Central five days later.
Now, they’re trying not to get discouraged while taking a tumble down the division standings. A 7-6 loss to the Cubs on Thursday was the seventh straight for the third-place Pirates (54-56), who have dropped seven games behind front-running Milwaukee.
“It’s how you rebound after a streak like this,” reliever Joe Beimel(notes) said. “We’re very capable of going on a streak where we win 10, 11 in a row. We’ve just still got to believe that, and hopefully pull it together.”
The Pirates may find it hard to reduce that deficit with the Padres coming to town. Pittsburgh has been outscored 37-15 during a six-game home losing streak to San Diego.
However, Pittsburgh took two of three from San Diego at Petco Park in May.
The Padres (48-64) begin a 10-game road trip following a 3-6 homestand that ended with Wednesday’s 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite being at the bottom of the NL West, San Diego is 25-28 on the road.
The right-hander surrendered six runs in 5 2-3 innings of Saturday’s 10-6 defeat to Colorado. Harang had been 5-0 with a 2.99 ERA in 11 starts since losing to Pittsburgh on May 2.
He gave up a pair of two-run homers over five innings in that 4-3 loss, but Harang’s 13 wins over the Pirates are tied for his most against any opponent.
Ryan Ludwick(notes), dealt to Pittsburgh by the Padres on Sunday, is 11 for 30 (.367) with three homers and eight RBIs against Harang. Ludwick ended an 0-for-9 start with the Pirates with an RBI single Thursday.
Derrek Lee(notes) could be back in the Pittsburgh lineup after missing one game with a sore hand. Lee is 3 for 10 with two homers and three RBIs in three games after coming over from Baltimore at the trade deadline.
The right-hander has yielded three runs in each of his last three outings, posting an 0-1 record. He kept Philadelphia in check for seven innings Sunday in a 6-5, 10-inning loss.
The shortest of Karstens’ 19 starts this year came May 3 in San Diego. He was reached for three runs and six hits in four innings but didn’t get a decision in the Pirates’ 6-5 loss.
Chase Headley(notes), who leads San Diego with a .333 average on the road, is a .333 hitter at PNC Park and had a career high five hits there Sept. 21, 2009. He’s 3 for 7 with two doubles against Karstens.