Pirates-Padres Preview

Even during the roughest stretch of his young career, Mat Latos

is still confident.

The San Diego right-hander looks to avoid setting a franchise

record with his 10th consecutive losing start when the Padres host

the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Latos (0-4, 4.98 ERA) tied for the team lead with 14 victories

last season, but has a 6.60 ERA while dropping nine straight starts

since beating the Dodgers on Sept. 7. He joins Andy Benes (Sept. 6,

1993-April 19, 1994) and Dennis Rasmussen (June 26-Aug. 9, 1991) as

the only Padres to lose nine consecutive starts.

Despite that distinction, the 23-year-old Latos still believes

in his ability.

“I feel fine,” Latos said. “It’s not like I’m giving up 10 runs

and getting the crap knocked out of me.”

Latos allowed six runs in five innings of a 7-0 loss to Atlanta

on Wednesday, but only one was earned after an error by first

baseman Brad Hawpe with two outs in the second inning led to the

Braves scoring five unearned runs.

“I did my job for the most part and you just have to keep

going,” Latos said.

Though Latos felt he pitched well and his teammates failed to

score a run in his second straight start, manager Bud Black knows

Latos has room for improvement in his second full major league

season.

“He couldn’t string pitches together,” Black said. “We’ve seen

that this year, just the inconsistency from hitter to hitter. We’ll

see some great sequences to hitters. And other times we’ll see it

slip away from him.”

Latos did not seem to have that problem in his only previous

start against the Pirates when he allowed two runs and struck out

seven in six innings of a 9-2 win at Pittsburgh on July 24.

The Pirates (14-15) kept the Padres (11-18) from a third

straight win overall and snapped a nine-game skid versus San Diego

dating to 2009 with a 4-3 victory Monday.

Garrett Jones and Chris Snyder each hit a two-run homer in the

first inning to help Pittsburgh win two in a row for the first time

since April 17-18 and improve to 3-1 on a six-game trip.

After going 17-64 on the road in 2010, Pittsburgh is 10-7 away

from home this season.

“We come into a town, and we’re not overwhelmed by a situation,”

pitcher Charlie Morton told the Pirates’ official website. “We

leave a lot of the past out of the clubhouse and just turn the

page.”

Jones is 7 for 17 with two homers and six RBIs his last five

games, and 2 for 3 versus Latos.

San Diego native Jeff Karstens (2-1, 3.57) makes his fourth

straight start Tuesday since leaving the Pirates’ bullpen. The

right-hander gave up five runs – two earned – in 6 2-3 innings of a

5-2 loss to San Francisco on Thursday.

Karstens is 0-2 but has a 3.00 ERA in two previous starts versus

San Diego – both last season.

Ryan Ludwick, 2 for 5 with a double and home run versus

Karstens, had two hits with an RBI on Monday for the Padres.

Still, San Diego has scored fewer than four runs in 13 of 16

games at Petco Park, where it’s 4-12 this season.