(Sports Network) - After finally being able to end a potentially-costly 10- game skid on Monday, the San Diego Padres will try to start up a winning streak behind their best pitcher when the National League West leaders resume a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight at Petco Park.
San Diego had been mired in its longest winless drought since registering a franchise-record 13 straight losses from May 8-21, 1994, and the slide had cut the team's once-comfortable lead atop the NL West down to a single game over hard-charging San Francisco. The Padres were able to get back on track at the expense of the fading Dodgers, however, coming through with a much-needed 4-2 victory in last night's opener.
The Padres still remained just one game up on the Giants, though, after San Francisco defeated Arizona on Monday. The two clubs will square off in a pivotal four-game set in San Diego beginning on Thursday.
Nick Hundley went 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBI to pace San Diego offensively last night, while the Padres used seven different pitchers to keep the Dodgers' offense under wraps. Mike Adams (3-1) was credited with the win after throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, with closer Heath Bell striking out two in a perfect ninth to notch his 38th save.
"I think there was a big exhale," Padres manager Bud Black said. "But again I think our guys know they have to prepare for another game. They know what month we're in."
Tim Stauffer worked the first four innings in an emergency start for San Diego and held Los Angeles to one run on four hits. The swingman was filling in for ace Mat Latos, who was scratched just hours before the game due to a stomach flu.
Latos is scheduled to take the ball tonight, which could bode well for the Padres' chances of remaining in first place. The talented youngster has yielded two runs or fewer in each of his last 14 starts and amassed an 8-1 record with a stellar 1.51 earned run average over that span. He's struck out an impressive 104 batters in 89 1/3 innings during that time period as well.
The 22-year-old hasn't won in either of his past two starts, but was able to keep the Padres in both games before they eventually lost. The right-hander held Philadelphia to one run in a seven-inning no-decision on August 27, then permitted one run and four hits while fanning 10 Arizona hitters in just six innings against the Diamondbacks this past Wednesday.
Latos, whose 2.25 ERA for the season is tops in the NL at the moment, hasn't had much luck in past matchups with the Dodgers as well. He's 0-2 in three lifetime starts against Los Angeles despite an overall ERA of 3.21, and was handed a tough 2-1 loss at Dodger Stadium on August 3 after surrendering a pair of runs in six innings.
He'll be taking on a Los Angeles squad that lost for the seventh time in nine games last night and failed to capitalize on their scoring chances in Monday's setback. The Dodgers ended the night 1-for-8 with men in scoring position and stranded two baserunners in each inning between the fourth and seventh.
"Opportunities get away, and there's not much more to add to that," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said afterward. "We had nine hits and some situations we didn't deliver."
Los Angeles also didn't get much out of starting pitcher Vicente Padilla (6-5), with the veteran lasting only four innings and allowing three runs on five hits to take the loss.
Torre will be counting on a longer outing from Clayton Kershaw, who'll be out to stop a string of three straight winless starts when he opposes Latos tonight. The hard-throwing southpaw has posted a 2.84 ERA during that stretch, however, and struck out a total of 28 batters in just 19 innings over those three games as well.
Kershaw fanned 11 Philadelphia hitters in six innings last Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, but was stuck with the loss in a 5-1 verdict after giving up a pair of runs. Five days earlier, the former first-round pick limited Colorado to one run over six frames but didn't factor in the decision of his team's 6-2 win.
The 22-year-old has been tough on the Padres this year, however, permitting only two runs and 10 hits over a combined 14 1/3 innings in a pair of victories over tonight's opponent. He's 4-2 with a 2.55 ERA in nine career encounters with San Diego and sports a 2.08 lifetime ERA at Petco Park.
Los Angeles has won seven of its 13 meetings with the Padres this season and are 4-3 in games played between the teams in San Diego in 2010.