(Sports Network) - The San Diego Padres have never swept a season series from the Pittsburgh Pirates and will try to make history tonight in the finale of a three-game series at Petco Park.
San Diego has won eight in a row overall in this series and the first five matchups with the Pirates this season. The Padres' longest winning streak against the Pirates is 10 games bridging the 1995 and 1996 seasons. They won Tuesday's series opener by a 4-1 score behind a strong outing by Wade LeBlanc, then got a respectable showing from Kevin Correia in last night's 8-5 victory.
Correia was reached for four runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts to improve to 9-7 this season. Heath Bell then notched his 33rd save with a perfect ninth and has converted each of his previous 20 save opportunities since May 29.
"I felt good, I had good command," Correia said. "I finally had the off-speed pitches to match my fastball command I've had in the past few starts. I felt in control of the game."
Jerry Hairston Jr. ended with two hits, including a home run, and two RBI, while All-Star slugger Adrian Gonzalez was 4-for-4 with two runs batted in and a pair of runs scored for the National League West-leading Padres, who have won three in a row overall and own a 2 1/2-game lead over San Francisco in the division standings. Hairston has three homers in his last four games. San Diego owns the best record in the NL and will kick off a 10-game road trip tomorrow starting with three games against the Giants.
Jon Garland will try to maintain San Diego's lead atop the NL West when he toes the rubber tonight. Garland has lost two of his past three starts and is coming off a seven-inning showing in Friday's 2-1 setback at Arizona. He allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings to fall to 10-8 in 23 starts with a 3.55 earned run average.
The right-hander is 6-2 in 12 starts at Petco Park this season and 1-2 in four career games (3 starts) against Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is riding a three-game losing streak and will try to salvage the finale of this series. James McDonald suffered the loss last night after he was reached for four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
"I felt my command was a little bad at times," McDonald said. "When I get ahead of a hitter in 0-2, 1-2 counts I have to be more aggressive and put them away early in the counts."
Ryan Doumit ended with a pair of runs batted in and Neil Walker was 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI for the Pirates.
Zach Duke hopes to get back into the win column when he takes the mound tonight. Duke is 0-1 in two starts since a modest two-game win streak and did not factor in the outcome of last Friday's 6-3 loss versus Colorado. He lasted six innings and yielded three runs and 10 hits.
Duke is 5-10 with a 5.32 earned run average in 19 starts this season, and 2-2 in four career starts against San Diego.