The Pittsburgh Pirates’ free-fall is showing few signs of
ending. The light-hitting, last-place San Diego Padres hope to keep
capitalizing on it.
The Pirates will try to snap a pair of lengthy losing streaks by
beating the Padres at PNC Park for the first time in nearly two
years Saturday night.
Atop the NL Central just over a week ago, Pittsburgh (54-57) has
lost eight straight to drop eight games back of division-leading
Milwaukee. The Pirates could fall to fourth place Saturday if they
lose while Cincinnati wins.
This is their longest skid since dropping 12 in a row from June
They suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season to open
this three-game series, falling 15-5 as the Padres (49-64)
collected season highs in runs and homers (four).
“We need to step up. We know it. We’ve talked about it,” manager
Clint Hurdle said. “We need action now, and we need to find a way
to fight through the hard part of the season.”
Pittsburgh has dropped seven in a row at home to San Diego since
a victory Sept. 18, 2009.
The Pirates have lost all four starts Paul Maholm (6-11, 3.27
ERA) has made against the Padres – all at PNC Park. He has a 3.71
ERA in those matchups but has been given just four runs of support,
He’s entering this meeting on a similar run overall, going 0-2
with a 4.88 ERA in four starts that have ended in Pittsburgh
Maholm allowed one run in seven innings at Atlanta on July 27,
then held Chicago to one through five frames Monday before
surrendering three runs in the sixth of a 5-3 defeat.
The Padres, who occupy the NL West basement, will try to solve
Maholm again despite ranking among the worst offensive teams in
baseball with a .234 average, 62 homers and 3.6 runs per game.
Their 946 strikeouts are the most in the majors, 52 more than the
next-worst team – Washington.
Chase Headley leads San Diego with a .292 average and had two
hits Friday, including a grand slam while collecting a career-high
five RBIs. He’s 10 for 25 with five doubles, two homers and eight
RBIs in his last six games at Pittsburgh.
“You ask anybody, they’ll tell you hitting’s contagious,” said
left fielder Kyle Blanks, who was 2 for 5 with his first homer of
the season Friday.
The Padres turn to Cory Luebke (3-6, 3.21), who has lost his
last three starts while compiling a 5.40 ERA.
The rookie left-hander had been 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his first
four outings after joining the rotation two months ago. In Monday’s
6-2 defeat to Los Angeles, he surrendered five runs and 10 hits in
a career-high 7 1-3 innings.
“He’s throwing the ball fine,” manager Bud Black said. “Corey’s
not a secret any more. He’s made a number of starts, he’s been in
the big leagues the entire season, so teams are getting multiple
looks at him. He’ll continue to make progress, he’s going to be
Luebke’s only appearance against the Pirates was three scoreless
innings of relief in a 4-3 loss May 2.