The San Diego Padres are playing the role of spoiler
The Pittsburgh Pirates will look to avoid a four-game sweep at
the hands of the red-hot Padres when they face off at PNC Park on
This week was supposed to be a chance for Pittsburgh, Cincinnati
and St. Louis to all take advantage of playing teams that will not
be headed to the postseason.
The Reds have, sweeping a three-game series from last-place
Houston. The Cardinals have as well, taking two of their first
three against last-place Colorado.
The Pirates, however, are in danger of suffering their first
four-game home sweep to the Padres since Aug. 8-11, 1996.
They took a 2-1 lead Wednesday on Andrew McCutchen’s two-run
homer in the seventh inning only to watch Mark Melancon blow his
third save as the Padres scored two in the ninth to hand Pittsburgh
a 3-2 loss.
Pittsburgh (87-65), which managed three hits Wednesday and has
been held to four runs in this series, has fallen two games back of
St. Louis in the NL Central and holds a one-half game lead over
Cincinnati for the NL’s top wild-card spot. The Pirates remain six
games up on Washington for a postseason berth.
“I know we can do a lot better of a job than what we’re doing
right now,” McCutchen said. “We only have so many more games left.
It’s time to get going. We don’t have time to be making it as close
as it’s been these past few days. We have the offense to do those
things, to score runs.”
Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez are part of the offensive woes.
Walker is in a 2-for-36 slump, while Alvarez is hitless in 17
The sputtering offense puts extra pressure on rookie Gerrit Cole
(8-7, 3.33 ERA), who will look to win his third straight start.
Cole has strung together six straight quality starts, yielding a
single home run. He has been particularly good in three September
outings, posting a 1.35 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 20 innings.
“You never know where surprises are going to come from,” Pirates
manager Clint Hurdle said. “You didn’t know where he was going to
be able to take you this season but his actions are speaking loud
The right-hander struck out seven Saturday, permitting a run in
seven innings in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
The Padres (71-80) have won 11 of 15, and lead the majors with
153 strikeouts this month. Their bullpen has given up two hits over
13 scoreless innings.
Ian Kennedy (6-9, 4.85) is among the Padres faring well at the
Since losing five straight decisions to end his time in Arizona,
the right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA. Kennedy held Atlanta to
three runs in six innings but didn’t get a decision in Friday’s 4-3
Kennedy, whose 25 home runs surrendered is tied for second-worst
in the NL, allowed two in the Braves’ three-run fourth inning.
Pittsburgh catcher Russell Martin, 4 for 40 since Sept. 2, will
likely sit Thursday.
“I want him ready for Cincinnati (Friday),” Hurdle told the
team’s official website.
San Diego has won 14 of 15 at PNC Park and is 31-10 all-time at
“There is no rhythm or reason to it,” manager Bud Black said.
“If we knew why, we would try to bottle it and take it with us
wherever we go.”