Padres-Diamondbacks Preview

The San Diego Padres’ woes at the plate and at Chase Field could

cost them first place in the NL West.

If they can’t end those struggles Saturday night, the Padres may

lose sole possession of the division lead for the first time since

mid-June as they meet the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

With a 3-5 record since July 29, San Diego has seen its lead in

the West dwindle to one game over San Francisco. The Padres (63-47)

have been alone in first place every day since being tied with Los

Angeles on June 17.

They produced just three hits in their latest defeat, 2-1 on

Friday night in the opener of this three-game set. San Diego has

hit .207 over its last eight games.

Miguel Tejada went 0 for 4 on Friday as his average dropped to

.188 since being acquired from Baltimore on July 29. Adrian

Gonzalez is mired in a 2-for-20 slump and has failed to drive in a

run in six straight games.

Though Arizona (42-68) has an NL-high 31 home losses, San Diego

is 1-3 at Chase Field this season and has lost 13 of its last 17

games there.

“These guys are a good team, and we know they’re going to

manufacture runs,” Arizona interim manager Kirk Gibson told the

Padres’ official website. “These are the type of games you are

going to have to win (against) them.”

The Padres, who have won six of seven overall against the

Diamondbacks, will try to turn things around against Rodrigo Lopez

(5-10, 4.64 ERA), who is 1-4 with a 5.30 ERA in his last six

starts.

The right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.80 ERA in two career starts

against Padres, including an 8-5 loss July 17.

His counterpart in that game, Clayton Richard (9-5, 3.60), will

start again Saturday searching for his third straight win and sixth

in nine starts. The left-hander allowed a season-high 10 hits and

four runs in 5 1-3 innings Monday, but he benefited from a rare

offensive outburst from his teammates in a 10-5 victory over the

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Padres, though, have since hit .139 and scored seven runs in

four games. Will Venable provided his team’s only run Friday with

his second homer in four contests.

San Diego homered four times in Richard’s only matchup against

Arizona on July 17, and the left-hander earned the victory despite

allowing five runs and nine hits over 6 1-3 innings.

Lopez has given up a major league-worst 27 home runs this

season, including two in Monday’s 3-1 home loss to Washington.

“It’s not something I’m proud of,” Lopez told the team’s

official website. “It’s ridiculous this year.”

He’ll try to help the Diamondbacks post their sixth victory in

nine tries.

They likely will have to play without slugger Mark Reynolds,

expected to undergo more neurological tests Saturday after being

hit in the head by a pitch Tuesday night.

Adam LaRoche, who had a solo homer among his two hits Friday,

has tried to pick up the slack by going 13 for 27 with four home

runs in six games this month.

Arizona is batting .290 since July 29 – 36 points above its

season average.