Diamondbacks-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

Generally speaking, managers will take good pitching over good hitting. The Arizona Diamondbacks' series with the San Diego Padres might be proving bosses should also prefer bad pitching over bad hitting.

For the first time in over a month, Diamondbacks starting pitchers can boast an ERA under six, and Wade Miley is now charged with keeping it that way as the worst staff in baseball tries for a three-game sweep Sunday in San Diego against MLB's worst hitting club.

Arizona starters have strung together 18 consecutive scoreless innings to lower their ERA to 5.81 after Brandon McCarthy's seven innings of three-hit ball in Saturday's 4-3 win over San Diego.

"We've been on the other kind of roll," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson told the team's official website. "We know we can play better, we're starting to play better. We've got to have a good trip here and then go home and continue it."

The Padres (13-18), last in the majors in batting (.215) and runs (80), rallied for three runs off the Diamondbacks bullpen, but those are the only runs Arizona (11-22) has surrendered in the first two games of the series.

"We just need some more timely hitting," Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "We've been struggling but we still have five more months in the season. You know it's not going to last the whole season."

The performance also dropped Arizona's overall team ERA under five (4.97) for the first time in over a month.

The Diamondbacks have won three straight and four consecutive road games while the Padres have dropped four in a row and three straight at home.

Miley (2-3, 5.36 ERA) got roughed up by Colorado in his last start, serving up seven runs on 10 hits in six innings of Monday's 8-5 loss.

"I just didn't do my job," Miley told the team's official website.

He hasn't been much better opposing San Diego, going 1-6 with a 5.26 ERA in nine career starts.

Everth Cabrera is 8 for 14 with a home run and a triple off Miley, but the Padres shortstop has been a contributor to the team's recent offensive woes with an 0-for-12 slump in his last three games.

As a team, San Diego is hitting .160 with five runs on the losing streak, and manager Bud Black thinks his team, which has drawn three walks in the four games, has been helping opposing pitchers out.

"It goes back to swinging at strikes and taking balls," Black told the team's official website.

Black is also seeking improvement from starter Tyson Ross, who has allowed nine runs over 11 1-3 innings in his last two starts after posting a 2.13 ERA in his first four. Ross (3-3, 3.68 ERA) surrendered four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings and escaped with a victory in Monday's 6-4 final in San Francisco.

"It was definitely a battle," Ross said. "My offspeed was inconsistent, left some sliders up in the zone that they hit hard. Just a battle out there."

The right-hander was dominant against the Diamondbacks last season, going 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA and .184 opponents' batting average in three starts and one relief appearance.

Arizona catcher Miguel Montero is 0 for 9 against Ross, though he went 3 for 5 Saturday and homered for the second time in three games.

Shortstop Chris Owings also went 3 for 5 while Paul Goldschmidt went 2 for 5 and is batting .409 on a five-game hitting streak.

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