Some surprising - and timely - offensive production has the San Diego Padres on their longest winning streak in more than two years.
Kip Wells is looking for another surprise of his own.
Wells will face the team that released him two years ago as the Padres go for their seventh win in a row Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds.
San Diego (34-50) is last in the majors with 3.55 runs per game, and at the bottom of the NL with a .235 average and .361 slugging percentage.
The Padres haven’t resembled such a light-hitting team recently, though, averaging 5.83 runs during a six-game winning streak while batting .281 with a .500 slugging percentage - thanks largely to 11 homers.
The bats came up big when it mattered most Thursday in the opener of this four-game series at Petco Park. Logan Forsythe hit a game-tying, pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning before Everth Cabrera’s walk-off RBI single in the ninth clinched a 2-1 win over Cincinnati.
“Over the last 3 1/2 weeks, the players and coaches sensed we were playing better,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “Over the last two weeks, you’ve seen more timely hitting, fundamental defense and the pitching has been fine.”
San Diego is riding its longest win streak since an eight-game run April 16-24, 2010, and Wells (1-1, 1.50 ERA) has helped that surge.
The 35-year-old right-hander is scheduled to face the Reds for the first time since they released him in April 2010. He also signed minor-league deals with Arizona and the Chicago White Sox over the last two years, but he didn’t get back to the majors until the Padres purchased his contract from Triple-A Tucson on June 26.
It took two starts for Wells to win his first game with San Diego, and he did it in impressive fashion in Sunday’s 2-0 victory at Colorado. He scattered six hits in seven innings to get his first big league win since he was with Cincinnati on Sept. 20, 2009.
“I wasn’t sure I’d have a chance to pitch,” Wells said. “Professional baseball over the last few years has been a challenge. Getting back is an accomplishment for me, but not winning is not going to hold much weight.”
Wells will now try for back-to-back winning starts for the first time since Aug. 8 and 14, 2007, when he was with St. Louis.
He could get help from Alexi Amarista, who is 13 for 29 with four homers and 13 RBIs over his last eight games. Former Reds first-round draft picks Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal have also been hot for the Padres, with Grandal’s double sparking the game-winning rally Thursday and Alonso posting his third straight two-hit game while also walking twice.
Unlike San Diego, the Reds (44-38) are scuffling at the plate during a three-game slide, hitting .170 while scoring once in each contest.
“We haven’t been getting the big hits to get a rally going,” first baseman Joey Votto said, “and get a bunch of runs on the board.”
The Reds now give the ball to Bronson Arroyo (3-5, 4.06), who will try to beat the Padres for the first time since July 23, 2008. He’s 0-3 with a 5.60 ERA in five meetings since.
Arroyo is also struggling on the road, where he’s 1-4 with a 6.09 ERA in his last six starts. The right-hander battled through a season-high 113 pitches Sunday at San Francisco, allowing two runs and seven hits in six innings while not getting a decision in the Reds’ 4-3 loss.
Cincinnati lost a season-high four in a row June 18-22.