(Sports Network) - Ryan Ludwick showed why the San Diego Padres acquired him at the trade deadline with a pair of home runs in last night's win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Padres are counting on their newcomer to remain hot in the heat of a playoff race and will resume a three-game series tonight with the Pirates at Petco Park.
Ludwick, who hadn't homered since June 14, came over from St. Louis last month and made his ninth game with the Cardinals a memorable one. Ludwick went deep to lead off the second inning and later blasted a solo shot in the seventh inning of a 4-1 victory. Jerry Hairston Jr. drove in a run and winning pitcher Wade LeBlanc helped his own cause with an RBI at the plate.
LeBlanc gave up the one run and five hits in 5 2/3 innings and struck out eight batters. Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams and Heath Bell went the rest of the way, with Bell notching his 32nd save. Bell is tied with Brian Wilson and Rafael Soriano for the major league lead in saves. Bell has also converted each of his previous 19 save opportunities since May 29, going 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA in 26 appearances over that stretch.
"The velocity was a little better today than it has been in the last few starts," LeBlanc said. "The defense played great behind me."
The National League West-leading Padres are 2 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco in the division standings and have won two straight after losing four of five contests. They will rest their hopes tonight on starter Kevin Correia, who has won three of his last four starts. Correia defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers on the road last Thursday with 5 2/3 shutout innings in a 5-0 victory.
Correia improved to 8-7 in 21 starts this season and will take on Pittsburgh for the second time in less than a month. He beat the Buccos in the Steel City on July 23, as he gave up three runs -- two earned -- in six innings of a 5-3 win. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in seven career meetings (4 starts) with the Pirates.
Pittsburgh has lost two in a row and nine of its last 12 games. Jeff Karstens knows all about losing too and fell to 2-8 on the season even though he held the Padres to two runs in six innings.
"He kept us in it," Pirates manager John Russell said of Karstens. "He did what we needed him to do."
Wilfredo Ledezma and Chris Resop each yielded a run in relief for the Pirates, who are winless in their last five road games. Jose Tabata had two hits and a run scored and Pedro Alvarez knocked in a run in defeat.
James McDonald gets the call for the Pirates tonight and will make his second start with the club since coming over from the Dodgers. He won his debut in last Thursday's 5-1 win over Colorado, as he delivered six shutout innings and a career-high eight strikeouts. McDonald, who went 0-1 in four games (1 start) with Los Angeles, threw two scoreless innings of relief in a 3-2 loss at San Diego on July 29.
The right-hander is 0-0 with a 7.71 ERA in four lifetime appearances (1 start) against the Padres.
San Diego swept a three-game set in Pittsburgh from July 23-25 and has won seven straight in this series. The Padres' longest winning streak against the Pirates is 10 games bridging the 1995 and 1996 seasons.