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Padres-Diamondbacks Preview

Padres-Diamondbacks Preview
Getting back to .500 was certainly a relief for the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.

They hope Dan Haren can help them create some momentum from that dramatic victory when they open a three-game series against the woeful San Diego Padres on Friday night.

The Diamondbacks (43-43), who have lost their last three games on Independence Day, hold the worst record for any division leader and have a 1 1/2-game lead on second-place Los Angeles.

They maintained that edge Thursday, when Conor Jackson hit a two-run single to cap a six-run ninth inning to beat Milwaukee 6-5. It was Arizona's fourth victory in 13 games.

"Hopefully this will kind of spark us and get us going," said Diamondbacks third baseman Chad Tracy, who had a three-run, pinch-hit double Thursday. "That looked like the old Diamondbacks right there, battling back and never giving up."

Arizona now hopes Haren (8-4, 2.85 ERA) can help them build on the win.

The right-hander hasn't lost since May 27, going 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA, 36 strikeouts and eight walks in 41 innings over six starts in June to win NL pitcher of the month honors.

Haren was outstanding again Sunday, yielding one unearned run and five hits while striking out seven in seven innings, but not factoring in the decision of a 4-3 loss at Florida.

"I've been throwing the ball a lot better lately, more the way I want to be, more the way (that shows) the type of pitcher I am," Haren told the team's official Web site. "I've had my scuffles this year, but I go out every day with the same mentality."

Haren has dominated the Padres (33-53) in four career games - three starts - posting a 1-0 record with a 1.17 ERA. He won his only start against them this year, yielding three hits in seven innings of a 9-0 victory on April 18.

That game opened a series at Chase Field in which the Diamondbacks won two of three games, and the result was the same in these teams' three-game set in San Diego from April 25-27.

Jackson, who went 2-for-5 on Thursday, played a big part in Arizona's last home series against San Diego, going 8-for-14 (.571) with two triples, a homer and four RBIs. The first baseman has been hot of late, hitting .381 (8-for-21) with one homer and six RBIs in the last five games.

The Padres, losers of 14 of their last 16 and owners of the worst record in baseball, were outscored by a combined 12-1 margin in losing their last two games at Colorado.

San Diego, which has scored 318 runs to rank ahead of only Washington (316) in the majors, is 1-10 in its last 11 games and has been held to three runs or less in nine of those contests. The club's only win in that span was a 15-8 victory at Colorado on Monday, as the offense generated a season-high 22 hits. It mustered only half that total over the next two games.

The Padres' starting rotation hasn't been much better either, going 0-8 with a 7.24 ERA in the last 10 games while failing to last more than six innings in any outing.

"That's been uncharacteristic from what we've seen most of the year," Padres manager Bud Black told the team's official Web site. "We need some good starting pitching performances ... throw some pitches in the eighth, ninth innings."

Black will now turn to Cha Seung Baek (1-3, 5.46), who has lost his last two starts by allowing 10 runs and 16 hits with 12 strikeouts in 11 1-3 innings.

The right-hander, who has never faced Arizona, was reached for four runs and eight hits in five innings of a 4-2 loss to Seattle on Saturday.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: July 4, 2008

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