Clinging to a 1 1/2-game lead in the National League West over the rival Giants, San Diego will play the first of three straight games versus the Pirates tonight from Petco Park. The Padres, who will visit the Bay area for three games from Aug. 13-15, had lost six of nine games before salvaging the finale of a three-game series in Arizona with Sunday's 10-1 blowout.
Surging starter Mat Latos worked six shutout innings of two-hit ball to bring his mark to 12-5 and struck out six batters. Ernesto Frieri, Joe Thatcher and Edward Mujica combined to allow one run the rest of the way.
"He's got a lively ball. I saw him up to 97 [mph]. He's deceiving, he's tall, he throws with downhill plane. He's got a good breaking ball, a good changeup, and he's got very good control, and he knows how to pitch," D'Backs interim manager Kirk Gibson said of Latos on the team's site.
Jerry Hairston Jr. went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and four runs scored, while Chris Denorfia clubbed a two-run homer and scored three times for the Padres, who got two RBI out of slugger Adrian Gonzalez and three hits from Everth Cabrera in the win. The Friars also outhit Arizona by a 12-3 margin.
Wade LeBlanc hopes the hit parade will march on Tuesday, as he is slated to make the start for San Diego. LeBlanc has lost two straight starts and is 1-6 with a 4.62 earned run average in his last eight trips to the hill. He was last in action on Wednesday in a 9-0 loss at Los Angeles and allowed four runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings, falling to 5-10 in 20 starts this season.
LeBlanc, who is 2-5 in 11 home starts in 2010, recently defeated Pittsburgh on June 25 in the Steel City and held the Pirates to three runs over six innings of his team's 6-3 triumph. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 3.95 ERA in three career matchups (2 starts) with Pittsburgh.
The Pirates can throw a wrench in San Diego's playoff plans with a series win this week. They had won three of five games before losing, 8-4, to Colorado in Sunday's finale of a four-game series.
Paul Maholm lasted just 2 2/3 innings on the hill and was reached for eight runs, six of which were earned, and seven hits.
"When you can't get a guy out with two outs and they score an extra six runs, that's what it boils down to," Maholm said about the Rockies scoring eight runs over the first three innings.
Neil Walker and Ronny Cedeno each had two hits and an RBI in defeat.
Jeff Karstens is scheduled to pitch for the Buccos tonight and owns an 0-5 mark with a 4.17 ERA in his last eight starts. The Pirates are 1-7 over that span. Karstens, who fired six shutout innings for a no-decision at St. Louis on July 30, previously took the mound in last Wednesday's 9-4 setback versus Cincinnati. He allowed three runs and nine hits in five innings to fall to 2-7 in 21 games (15 starts) this season.
Karstens, a right-hander, lost to San Diego on July 24 and was reached for four runs -- two earned -- in six frames. He is 0-2 in three career meetings (1 start) against the Padres.
San Diego swept a three-game set in Pittsburgh from July 23-25 and has won six straight in this series.