Diamondbacks-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

Even the typically generous arms of the Arizona Diamondbacks' pitching staff might present too difficult a challenge for the San Diego Padres to break out of their latest slump.

The offensively challenged Padres try to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat Saturday night against the Diamondbacks, who look for a third straight win.

For the second time in three games, San Diego (13-17) was shut out and held to three hits, falling 2-0 to Arizona on Friday. Last in the majors with 2.6 runs per game and hitting an NL-worst .213, the Padres have been blanked five times this season - collecting only three hits in three of those over the past week.

Arizona (10-22) entered the series opener with a major-league worst 5.20 ERA, but Bronson Arroyo and two relievers held the Padres to three singles and struck out eight.

"There's not a cure-all for this - we have to go through it," manager Bud Black told the Padres' official website. "We're seeing guys go up there and probably pressing. We've got to relieve that tension."

Batting .190 with no homers and two RBIs after setting career highs with a .268 average, 22 home runs and 53 RBIs last season, San Diego's Will Venable is 0 for 11 with five strikeouts in the last three games.

One of four Padres in Friday's lineup batting below .200, Venable is 2 for 6 versus Arizona starter Brandon McCarthy (0-5, 5.54 ERA).

The right-hander will try to avoid a career-high sixth straight losing start after allowing three earned runs over 12 innings of his last two. He yielded two and struck out 12 with a walk in seven innings of a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.

"It is big for me," said McCarthy, who has received one run of support while on the mound in his last four starts.

"I want to stop giving up runs. That is goal one."

He allowed one earned run in 14 innings to win his first two starts against the Padres last season before yielding four over six innings of a 4-1 loss at San Diego on Sept. 23.

Aaron Hill had two hits, including the decisive two-run single in the third on Friday for the Diamondbacks, who won for the third time in their last nine games in San Diego.

Teammate Paul Goldschmidt is 7 for 17 in the last four games, and 2 for 5 with two doubles against ex-Diamondback Ian Kennedy (2-3, 3.16).

The right-hander has allowed a run in each of his last two starts, most recently Sunday at Washington as he gave up three hits and struck out nine without a walk in seven innings of a 4-2 victory.

"No matter if it's the first or the seventh, you have to throw everything for strikes," Kennedy told the Padres' official website.

He gave up six runs and five walks in 4 1-3 innings of a 10-9, 10-inning loss at Arizona on Aug. 27 in his first appearance against his former team. Less than a month later, Kennedy yielded two runs over seven in a 12-2 home victory over the Diamondbacks.

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