Padres roll dice with Ross versus Dodgers

SAN DIEGO — For the Los Angeles Dodgers, Thursday night’s series finale against the Padres at Petco Park is a golden opportunity to claim a third win in the four-game series.

And the Dodgers have to be feeling pretty good about their chances.

They will send right-hander Ross Stripling (7-2, 2.22 ERA) to the mound. He has beaten the Padres once this season.

The Padres counter with right-hander Tyson Ross (6-7, 4.41), which could be an issue.

At the end of June, Ross was 5-5 with a 3.32 ERA over his first 16 starts of the season. But over his last two starts, Ross has been pounded to the point of concern.

He has given up 15 runs on 14 hits and five walks with just two strikeouts in seven innings. In his most recent start at Chase Field in Arizona, Ross gave up eight runs and seven hits in two innings.

He has given up six home runs in his last three starts after yielding eight in his first 15.

Given Ross’s medical history — the 6-foot-6, 31-year-old had a 7.71 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) with the Texas Rangers last season after returning from thoracic outlet surgery — there is concern about his health. In fact, he signed with the Padres last winter as a minor league free agent.

There were no issues for the first three months of the season as Ross thrived. And the pitcher says he still feels good.

However, his ERA has jumped more than a run over the span of seven innings. And he failed to strike out a hitter over five innings July 1 against Pittsburgh after having 90 strikeouts in his first 95 innings.

If Ross continues to struggle, it could ruin some other possible plans. Two weeks ago, several teams appeared to be interested in the slider specialist as a trading deadline acquisition.

Ross will try to right the ship against the Dodgers, who he will be facing for the first time this season. Overall, Ross has an 0-7 record against the Dodgers with a 3.49 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and a .265 opponents’ batting average in 11 games (nine starts).

But Ross has pitched better at Petco Park than elsewhere. He has a 3.07 career at Petco Park with a 1.15 WHIP and a .262 opponents’ batting average.

Stripling would have the second-best ERA in the National League if he had enough innings to qualify. In 24 games (13 starts), Stripling has allowed 23 runs (22 earned) on 83 hits and 13 walks with 103 strikeouts in 89 1/3 innings. He has a 1.07 WHIP and a .242 opponents’ batting average.

Stripling is 2-3 lifetime in nine appearances (three starts) against the Padres with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.