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Rockies-Padres Preview

AP - Sports

The hottest team in baseball is making life even sunnier in southern California. And all those wins are keeping alive faint playoff hopes.

The San Diego Padres look to continue their push toward a wild-card spot as they host the Colorado Rockies to start a three-game series on Friday.

The Padres (69-75) have won four in a row and seven of eight, playing some of their best baseball just in time to make a late playoff push. While they are still under .500, they are within striking distance of the Cardinals and Dodgers – who are playing each other this weekend – for the second NL wild-card spot.

"It's a long season and you don't know what's going to happen," Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "Right now we're 6½ games back in the wild card. Baseball is a crazy sport."

San Diego has been the NL's best team over the last month, going 17-5 since August 19. The Padres beat St. Louis 3-2 on Wednesday to complete their first three-game sweep of the Cardinals since August 1995.

"I take it personally as a compliment to our players that we're able to do that," said San Diego manager Bud Black, whose team has won 21 of its last 27 at home.

San Diego has only 18 games remaining to make its move, and the next 15 will be against division opponents before finishing with a three-game set against Milwaukee.

Logan Forsythe has been one of those leading the charge. He had a solo home run on Wednesday, and is hitting .359 with 11 runs and 11 RBIs over his last 18 games.

Andrew Cashner (3-3, 3.46 ERA) makes his second start since returning from the disabled list with a strained muscle. He gave up two runs and four hits in five innings last Friday against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander made two relief appearances against the Rockies earlier in the year, but this will be his first career start against Colorado.

The Rockies (57-85) are just trying to avoid finishing with the worst record in franchise history after a brutal streak to close out the season. Colorado has lost eight of 10 and needs to play .500 ball the rest of the way to avoid a franchise-worst season. The Rockies went 67-95 in their inaugural 1993 season and also in 2005.

The lone bright spot for Colorado has been rookie Wilin Rosario, who homered in an 8-3 loss to San Francisco on Wednesday. His next one will tie Todd Helton's for the franchise rookie record of 25 set in 1998.

"Compile me a list of guys who catch who is sitting on the potential for 30-plus and 100-plus because that's what this kid's offensive ceiling is capable of," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

Tyler Chatwood (4-4, 5.32 ERA) starts for the Rockies on Friday. He's made two relief appearances against San Diego this season, giving up seven hits and three earned runs in two innings pitched.

The Padres are 8-7 against the Rockies this season.

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