Mets-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

Edinson Volquez is looking for the longest winning streak of his career, and a start at Petco Park may be just what he needs.

The San Diego Padres are also enjoying their best stretch of the year at home.

Volquez goes for a fifth consecutive victorious decision Saturday when he attempts to beat the New York Mets for the first time.

Volquez (7-7, 3.51 ERA) is 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 45 2-3 innings over his last seven starts. That matches the right-hander's longest string of victories, previously achieved over five starts at the beginning of 2008 with Cincinnati.

His current run includes a tremendous stretch at pitcher-friendly Petco. He tossed a one-hit shutout in his most recent home start July 19, improving to 2-0 with a 0.40 ERA and a .133 opponent batting average in his last three outings in San Diego.

Volquez is hoping a return home can help him rebound from a lackluster performance in an 11-5 win at Cincinnati on Monday. He beat his former team despite allowing five runs and six hits - two homers - with three walks in five innings.

He's 0-3 with a 5.32 ERA in four starts against the Mets (52-55), losing 2-0 in New York on May 27. He allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings while the Padres were held to three hits by R.A. Dickey and two relievers.

San Diego (45-63) needed only four hits to beat the knuckleballer Friday, opening this three-game set with a 3-1 victory. The Padres have won six of seven at home, matching their win total from their previous 18 contests there.

Yonder Alonso is hot at the plate, hitting .394 with a homer and six doubles in his past eight games overall. He's 7 for 19 in five 2012 meetings with the Mets, going 2 for 3 with a double that aided the Padres' tiebreaking rally in the seventh inning Friday.

The first baseman hit a shot to right-center and Carlos Quentin raced home, with the ball arriving very early. However, Quentin barreled over catcher Josh Thole to knock the ball loose and score the go-ahead run.

"It's frustrating because the play at the plate was the ball game," Thole said. "It changed the whole dynamic of the game. I just didn't get my free hand on the ball. I was reaching for it. As I was getting to it, I got hit."

The Mets are 5-4 on this season-high 11-game road trip, and Ruben Tejada has at least one hit in each game. The shortstop is hitting .366 on the trip.

He's 6 for 13 lifetime at San Diego, but 0 for 3 versus Volquez.

Rookie Jeremy Hefner (1-4, 5.52) is scheduled to get a third - and possibly last - turn in the rotation in place of the injured Johan Santana, who may be back next week.

The right-hander is 0-1 while allowing seven runs and 16 hits with 12 strikeouts and five walks in 11 2-3 innings over his last two starts.

Hefner was battered by the Padres in his first major league start May 24, surrendering six runs and nine hits before getting pulled with two outs in the fourth in an 11-5 defeat.

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