Pirates-Padres rubber match pits Ross vs. Taillon

SAN DIEGO — Padres manager Andy Green says make nothing of the statistic. The only thing that’s important is that the Padres will be going for a series win Sunday in the rubber match of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Petco Park.

But here’s the stat. The Padres lost Friday night’s series opener to the Pirates — marking the 18th time in the last 19 series that the Padres have lost the opening game in the series.

Saturday night they held onto a 4-3 win to improve to 14-5 in the second game of their last 19 series. Going into Sunday, they are 11-7 in the third game.

“I don’t put much into that first game of a series statistic,” Green said Saturday. “I think it’s just one of those things that you don’t make too big a deal out of. The goal is to win the series and we have Tyson (Ross) on the mound for the rubber game.”

The right-handed Ross (5-5, 3.32 earned run average) will be opposing Pittsburgh right-hander Jameson Taillon (5-6, 3.96 ERA) in Sunday afternoon’s rubber match.

The 32-year-old Ross has been the Padres most reliable pitcher this season. The Padres are 11-5 when he starts (including a 7-2 record over his last nine starts), although they have failed to score a run for him the last three times he has started.

Ross has not allowed more than three runs in his last nine starts and he has gone five or more innings in his last 11 starts. Over his last two outings, Ross has allowed three runs on nine hits and six walks in 13 innings. And his ERA over those past nine starts is 3.08.

Ross has already made one successful start against the Pirates this season. On May 18 in Pittsburgh, Ross held Pittsburgh to two runs on five hits and four walks with two strikeouts over six innings to get credit for the win in a 3-2 Padres victory.

Sunday will be Ross’ seventh career appearance against the Pirates. In six previous starts, Ross has a 2-2 record and a 3.24 ERA. Another thing Ross has going for him Sunday is Petco Park. He has a career 2.91 ERA in the Padres’ downtown home in 53 games (44 starts).

Taillon, 26, will be facing the Padres for the first time this season although he will be making his third career start against the Padres. He has a 1-0 record with a 1.26 ERA over 14 1/3 innings in his first two outings against the Padres. He shut out the Padres on three hits and two walks over eight innings in 2016.

Like Ross, Taillon will also be making his 17th start of the season. After starting the season 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA in his first three starts, Taillon has gone 3-6 with a 4.87 ERA in his last 13 starts. But he has won each of his past three road starts, giving up four runs in 21 innings.

The biggest plus for Taillon Sunday could be the sunlight. He is 9-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 17 career day games and 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in five daylight starts on the road.