Padres-Giants Preview

The Associated Press

The San Diego Padres left-hander Cory Luebke has been superb since a miserable season debut, and his latest outing might have been his most impressive.

While Luebke will try to add to his 13-inning scoreless run Friday night, the San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval will try to extend his hitting streak to 20 games during the opener to a three-game series at AT&T Park.

Luebke (2-1, 2.52 ERA) has bounced back nicely since giving up a career high-tying six runs over 4 2-3 innings to the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 6, posting a 0.89 ERA over his last three starts.

The left-hander outdueled two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay in a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday, giving up two hits over eight innings in his second straight win.

"He's learning every start. Remember, we're talking about a guy with limited service time," manager Bud Black told the team's website about Luebke, who has made 24 starts over his three major league seasons.

Both of Luebke's wins have ended four-game skids, but the Padres (6-14) avoided a third straight defeat with a 2-1 win over Washington on Thursday. Mark Kotsay provided the go-ahead runs with a double in the eighth inning.

"We talked about what a difference one hit would make in a lot of games and tonight you saw it,'' Black said.

San Diego, though, has lost 11 of 14 to the Giants (10-9) and six of seven on the road.

San Francisco is 4-2 at AT&T Park this season but heads into this series after dropping two of three in Cincinnati. The Giants avoided a sweep with a 6-5 victory Thursday as Angel Pagan hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning.

"Something like that can carry us and jump-start us a little bit," pitcher Ryan Vogelsong said. "It's important to have comebacks like that because it proves to the team that we can do it. ... That was a big lift for the whole team."

Sandoval's fourth-inning single gave him the longest hit streak to open a season in franchise history, surpassing Johnny Rucker's 18-game run to start 1945 for the New York Giants.

"Pablo has played with a lot of energy and not showing any signs (of being tired)," manager Bruce Bochy told the team's website. "Pablo has looked great."

Sandoval, who is three shy of matching his personal-best streak from June 19-July 14, is 4 for 9 with a triple and four strikeouts in his career against Luebke. He's batting .346 over his last 20 games against San Diego and is a .325 hitter in 30 career matchups at home.

The Giants have not officially named a starter for Friday's game but it's expected to be minor leaguer Eric Hacker.

The right-hander will be making his Giants debut and first major league start. He made a combined five relief appearances for Pittsburgh and Minnesota over the last three years.

Hacker won all four of his starts at Triple-A Fresno this season while posting a 2.19 ERA.

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