San Diego (67-65) at Arizona (64-68)

Clear Currently: Phoenix, AZ, US
Temp: 69° F
  • Game info: 6:40 pm EDT Wed Aug 30, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

MORTON GROVE, Ill. (AP)—The San Diego Padres moved into the NL wild card lead with their best offensive showing on the road in more then a month.

They’ll try for a repeat performance when they meet the Arizona Diamondbacks in the deciding game of a three-game series on Wednesday at Chase Field.

After scoring a total of seven runs in consecutive road losses, San Diego (67-65) erupted for its most runs away from home since July 27 in Tuesday’s 8-3 victory over Arizona.

The win coupled with Cincinnati’s 6-5, 16-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers moved the Padres into the wild card lead. The Diamondbacks (64-68) are three games behind the Padres. San Diego and Arizona trail the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers by three and six games, respectively, in the NL West.

Mike Piazza and Geoff Blum each homered Tuesday while Josh Barfield and Russell Branyan added RBI singles for the Padres, who recorded 14 hits.

“Those are momentum swings,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said.

Branyan has proven a nice addition since being acquired from Tampa Bay last Thursday, going 5-for-8 with four RBIs over his last two games.

“The run support was awesome,” said Padres starter Chris Young, who allowed two runs, three hits and walked none while striking out 11 over seven innings, “and the defense was great, too.”

Mike Thompson (3-5, 5.07 ERA) looks to duplicate Young’s effort and avoid his third straight loss when he takes the mound for San Diego. The 25-year-old rookie right-hander was recalled for the fifth time this season before his last outing to replace Chan Ho Park.

He lasted just four innings in a 13-5 loss to Colorado on Friday, allowing season highs in runs (eight) and hits (11).

“I came into the game with good stuff,” Thompson said. “My pitch selection was poor that first inning. That kind of killed me there.

“It was all my bad.”

Thompson is 0-3 with a 5.62 ERA in his last seven major league starts. He is 1-1 with a 5.91 ERA in two starts against the Diamondbacks this season.

Arizona counters with Claudio Vargas (10-8, 5.14), who tries to bounce back from a shaky outing. The right-hander allowed six runs and a season-high 10 hits, including three homers, in a 9-7, 15-inning victory over the Dodgers on Friday.

Before the poor performance, Vargas had pitched three straight quality starts, going 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA. He will try to regain that form against the Padres, who he has been dominant against this season, allowing just one run through 16 innings in three appearances—including two starts.

Vargas is 2-2 with a 2.29 ERA in seven career outings, five of them starts, against the Padres.

The Diamondbacks need a win Wednesday to avoid losing their fourth straight series. Arizona is 3-9 in its last 12 games, including a series loss to the Padres Aug. 18-20 at Petco Park.

Diamondbacks second baseman Orlando Hudson went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored on Tuesday and is batting .481 (13-for-27) during a six-game hitting streak.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Thompson PIT vs. C. Vargas TOR
4-5 Record 12-10
4.99 ERA 4.83
35 K 123
30 BB 52
1.45 WHIP 1.41