Hanging-tight D-backs host fading Padres

BY foxsports • July 26, 2013

Some have suggested over the past few days that the Diamondbacks are slipping. But though they lost their hold on first place to the Dodgers -- at the hands of the Cubs, no less -- the D-backs enter the weekend just a half-game back in the NL West.

The visiting Padres have slipped even more. At the start of the month, they were in fourth place, just 5 1/2 games back of the D-backs. The Padres have gone 6-10 since then to cap an 8-21 stretch that began June 22.

With the D-backs trying to keep pace with the red-hot Dodgers, who are 14-5 in July, and the visiting Padres trying to get back in contention, here's what to watch for in the three-game series at Chase Field:

PITCHING MATCHUPS: Friday -- RHP Randall Delgado (2-3, 3.43 ERA) vs. LHP Eric Stults (8-8. 3.45). Saturday -- LHP Tyler Skaggs (2-2, 4.11) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (6-5, 3.84). Sunday -- LHP Patrick Corbin (12-1, 2.31) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (0-4, 3.60).

WHO'S HOT FOR THE D-BACKS: Friday starter Randall Delgado has allowed three runs or fewer in all seven of his starts this season. Over his last five starts (four of them quality starts), Delgado is 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA. ... Third baseman Martin Prado has stayed hot, going 10 for 27 with a double, a triple and six RBI over his past seven games. He has a .419 on-base percentage and a team-best .593 slugging percentage in that span. ... First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is on a tear the past five games, batting .400 (6 for 15) with two doubles, a home run and six RBI.

WHO'S NOT: Second baseman Aaron Hill's two RBI on Thursday were his first since July 10. Since that game, Hill has batted .171 (6 for 35) with a double, a home run and two RBI. ... Though center fielder Adam Eaton has scored seven runs since July 11, he is without an RBI since then and hitting .250 (8 for 32) with one extra-base hit in his 10 games since. ... In his last two outings, reliever David Hernandez owns a 13.50 ERA over two innings, having allowed three runs on two hits, including a home run.

WHO'S HOT FOR THE PADRES: Friday starter Eric Stults has been solid since before the All-Star break, going 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in three starts that totaled 21 innings. ... Outfielder Jesus Guzman has over his past seven games batted .429 (6 for 14) with three doubles, two home runs and seven RBI. ... After a bit of a rough patch, first baseman Yonder Alonso has gone 10 for 26 (.385) with a double and five RBI over his past seven games. ... Closer Huston Street has held opponents scoreless in seven straight outings, notching three saves and just three hits in that stretch.

WHO'S NOT: Second baseman Jedd Gyorko has struggled offensively since returning from the disabled list two weeks ago. In that nine-game span, Gyorko is batting just .114 (4 for 35) with no extra-base hits, one RBI and nine strikeouts. ... Outfielder Chris Denorfia has gone cold since the All-Star break, batting just .083 (1 for 12) with no RBI and no extra-base hits in five games in the second half.

D-backs catcher Miguel Montero is listed as day-to-day but is dealing with a sore back and could be held out of action for a fourth straight game Friday. In Montero's absence, reserve Wil Nieves has gone 6 for 14 (.429) with two doubles and an RBI. Nieves is batting .369 with 13 RBI in 34 games this season. ... Brad Ziegler is the D-backs' closer until further notice and on Thursday closed out his fifth save in five chances this season. He has not allowed an earned run in nine straight appearances, including 11 straight at home. ... Padres outfield Chris Denorfia has owned Sunday D-backs starter Patrick Corbin in their meetings so far. Denorfia is 7 for 13 (.538) with two doubles, three home runs and three RBI against Corbin. Delgado, meanwhile, has not faced anyone in the Padres' lineup. ... Tyson Ross on Sunday will make his second start since coming back from the disabled list. In his first, which came Tuesday, he allowed just one run on two hits over six innings.