The NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks may be on the verge of their first three-game slide in nearly a month, but a favorable schedule could lead to a sudden turnaround.
The Diamondbacks look to move closer to their first division title in four years by re-establishing their success against the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.
Arizona (87-64) has a six-game lead on San Francisco in the division race with 11 games remaining, including three at home against the Giants next weekend.
Until then, the Diamondbacks will try to shrink their magic number from six games by capitalizing on the last-place Padres (64-87) before a three-game set with Pittsburgh (68-83).
Arizona failed to get closer to the division title Friday, losing the opener of this three-game series 2-0 following a 3-2 defeat at Los Angeles two days earlier.
“There’s not many times we’ve been shut out this year. It was just one of those nights,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “It’s just not ideal.”
The Diamondbacks are in danger of their longest slide since a season-high six-game skid Aug. 17-22, but they have won nine of the past 12 meetings with the Padres.
One of the defeats in that stretch came with scheduled starter Josh Collmenter(notes) (9-9, 3.40 ERA) on the mound, as he was tagged for six runs and seven hits with three walks in four innings of Sunday’s 7-6 home loss.
The rookie right-hander was much better in his previous meeting against San Diego, scattering six hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-0 victory at home Aug. 26.
Replicating that start at Petco Park could help Collmenter win for the first time in 11 starts on the road. He’s 0-5 with a 3.88 ERA since a 1-0 victory at Los Angeles in his first major league start May 14.
Despite his recent effort against San Diego and his struggles on the road, Padres manager Bud Black is impressed with Collmenter.
“That guy has been throwing the ball well all year,” Black told his team’s official website. “He’s a strike thrower and he threw some good pitches that we laid off and took some walks.”
San Diego is trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since a five-game winning streak Aug. 18-23.
Wade LeBlanc(notes) (3-5, 5.43) gets the start opposite Collmenter after beating him Sunday. The left-hander tossed five shutout innings before giving up four runs and getting lifted with two outs in the sixth.
“You saw the effective mix of pitches, changing speeds - all of that went into Wade’s game,” Black said. “He pitched well. I just thought it was time to go to the bullpen.”
LeBlanc is 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three home starts against the Diamondbacks, but he hasn’t faced them there since Aug. 25, 2010. He has a 7.45 ERA in two outings versus Arizona this year.
Justin Upton(notes) is a .335 hitter with 14 homers and 34 RBIs versus the Padres, hitting seven homers while driving in 11 in 16 meetings this year. However, he’s 2 for 14 with four strikeouts lifetime against LeBlanc.