The Arizona Diamondbacks picked a really bad time to go into a tailspin.
Looking to snap a three-game skid, the Diamondbacks also will try to keep their lead in the NL West from shrinking even further Sunday afternoon against the San Diego Padres.
After a one-run loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, Arizona was blanked by the Padres in Friday’s series opener and managed five hits in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat. The Diamondbacks (87-65) - who are hitting a meager .163 with three runs scored during their losing streak - have a five-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West, and a magic number of six to clinch their first division title since 2007.
The Diamondbacks and Giants each have 10 games left and will wrap up the season series with a three-game set starting Friday night in Phoenix.
Kirk Gibson said there’s no reason to panic just yet.
“We’ve been through these streaks before,” the Diamondbacks manager said. “Nobody likes them. We fixed them before. We need to get after it. It’s disappointing. But we have nobody to blame but ourselves - and we’re the people who can fix it as well and we will.”
The three-game losing streak is the Diamondbacks’ longest since dropping six in row from Aug. 17-22. They responded by winning 18 of 21 to open up some breathing room over the defending World Series champions.
Joe Saunders(notes) (11-12, 3.83 ERA) will try to end Arizona’s skid and match a season high by winning his third straight start. In road victories this month over Colorado and the Dodgers, Saunders has surrendered five runs and 11 hits in 13 innings.
The left-hander is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in three starts against San Diego in 2011. Saunders’ lone complete game this year came when he held the Padres to six hits in a 6-1 victory on July 26 at Petco Park.
Saunders lost to San Diego on May 8 during an 0-5 stretch in his first nine starts. That was before reeling off three straight wins from May 24-June 4.
The San Diego native opposed Saunders in May and permitted two runs in seven innings of the Padres’ 4-3 home win. Harang, who lost in Arizona on Aug. 27, has a 1.94 ERA in 11 career starts against the Diamondbacks despite a 3-5 record.
He fell for the third time in four games after surrendering four runs in five innings of Monday’s 8-3 defeat at San Francisco.
Arizona is batting .204 while posting a 3-5 record this year in San Diego.
The Padres (65-87) will be going for their fifth sweep of the year and first at home over Arizona since July 16-18, 2010.
“We’re going to come out (Sunday) and try to keep it rolling,” said Wade LeBlanc(notes), who got the win Saturday. “We’ve got some momentum, we’ve got some good pitching going. We got some timely hits that we need. We’re going to try to finish out the season strong.”