Padres-Pirates Preview

The Pittsburgh Pirates would seem to have a good chance at

ending the longest losing streak of their surprising season with a

last-place team set to visit.

The San Diego Padres, though, have designs on extending their

winning streak at PNC Park.

Looking to avoid an eighth consecutive defeat, the Pirates meet

the Padres on Friday night for the first of three games.

Pittsburgh, which has had 18 straight losing seasons since its

last playoff appearance, was a season-high seven games over .500 on

July 19 and moved atop the NL Central five days later.

Now, they’re trying not to get discouraged while taking a tumble

down the division standings. A 7-6 loss to the Cubs on Thursday was

the seventh straight for the third-place Pirates (54-56), who have

dropped seven games behind front-running Milwaukee.

“It’s how you rebound after a streak like this,” reliever Joe

Beimel said. “We’re very capable of going on a streak where we win

10, 11 in a row. We’ve just still got to believe that, and

hopefully pull it together.”

The Pirates may find it hard to reduce that deficit with the

Padres coming to town. Pittsburgh has been outscored 37-15 during a

six-game home losing streak to San Diego.

However, Pittsburgh took two of three from San Diego at Petco

Park in May.

The Padres (48-64) begin a 10-game road trip following a 3-6

homestand that ended with Wednesday’s 3-0 win over the Los Angeles

Dodgers.

Despite being at the bottom of the NL West, San Diego is 25-28

on the road.

Coming off his first loss in nearly three months, Aaron Harang

(9-3, 3.76 ERA) will take the mound for the Padres to begin this

trip.

The right-hander surrendered six runs in 5 2-3 innings of

Saturday’s 10-6 defeat to Colorado. Harang had been 5-0 with a 2.99

ERA in 11 starts since losing to Pittsburgh on May 2.

He gave up a pair of two-run homers over five innings in that

4-3 loss, but Harang’s 13 wins over the Pirates are tied for his

most against any opponent.

Ryan Ludwick, dealt to Pittsburgh by the Padres on Sunday, is 11

for 30 (.367) with three homers and eight RBIs against Harang.

Ludwick ended an 0-for-9 start with the Pirates with an RBI single

Thursday.

Derrek Lee could be back in the Pittsburgh lineup after missing

one game with a sore hand. Lee is 3 for 10 with two homers and

three RBIs in three games after coming over from Baltimore at the

trade deadline.

Jeff Karstens (8-5, 2.49), who starts Friday for the Pirates,

hasn’t been able to come away with a win recently despite being

consistently solid.

The right-hander has yielded three runs in each of his last

three outings, posting an 0-1 record. He kept Philadelphia in check

for seven innings Sunday in a 6-5, 10-inning loss.

The shortest of Karstens’ 19 starts this year came May 3 in San

Diego. He was reached for three runs and six hits in four innings

but didn’t get a decision in the Pirates’ 6-5 loss.

Chase Headley, who leads San Diego with a .333 average on the

road, is a .333 hitter at PNC Park and had a career high five hits

there Sept. 21, 2009. He’s 3 for 7 with two doubles against

Karstens.