Pirates' Nova looks to rebound vs. Padres (Jul 29, 2017)

BY AP • July 29, 2017

SAN DIEGO -- The Pittsburgh Pirates' Ivan Nova will start against the San Diego Padres on Saturday, hoping he is better at sea level than at the mile-high elevation.

Nova will try to rebound from a disastrous outing at Colorado. The Rockies pummeled Nova for a season-high seven runs and five hits in five-plus innings.

"People says it feels different but I don't feel that way,'' Nova told reporters after the game. "When you miss, you miss.''

Location is the key for Nova, and that has nothing to do with the locales of San Diego and Denver. Nova (10-7, 3.62 ERA), who won two of his past three starts, elevated too many pitches against the Rockies and the results were predictable.

But maybe the Padres will be his tonic, although they have won three straight games and that includes Friday's series opener.

In two starts against the Padres when Nova was with the New York Yankees, he won his only decision against San Diego when he pitched seven scoreless innings. In his 12 1/3 career innings versus the Padres, he has allowed but one run.

This weeklong run of Padres-Pirates games is a bit strange. The teams played each other for the first time on Friday and after Sunday's series-finale, the squads square off next weekend in Pittsburgh.

Padres manager Andy Green is impressed with how the Pirates have played of late.

"The Pirates are playing good baseball right now,'' he said. "They went through a lull earlier in the season where they might be tearing the group down over there and trying to rebuild it. But they've played extraordinarily well now for some time and they are right back in the thick of the NL Central and have a shot at the wild card.''

Righty Dinelson Lamet (4-4, 5.92 ERA), who will be San Diego's starter Saturday, wasn't wild his last time out and Green is hoping for a similar performance. Lamet walked just one Giant when he went 6 2/3 innings against San Francisco in a win. He gave up two runs on eight hits but what he also gave Green was some length, finishing one out shy of tying for his longest outing of the year.

When Lamet has command, he can go deep into games.

"That's a big part of it,'' Green said. "He's had days, honestly, where he didn't have command of anything, so he wasn't going to pitch deep into a ball game.

"But what he did very well in the last game was to go to his slider earlier instead of leaving it in his back pocket. He was able to pitch himself out of potentially troubling situations. Sometimes he likes to lean on that fastball, especially early in games.

"He has to be convinced of how good his slider actually is. Sometimes they will get a hit off it; you're not invincible. But with that pitch, mixed in with his fastball. . .he throws them both very well. When he's doing that, he has a chance to pitch deep into ballgames.''

Lamet has never faced Pittsburgh.

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