Cory Luebke outdueled one of baseball's best pitchers last time out. Now he'll try to slow down one of the hottest batters this evening when his San Diego Padres begin a three-game series against Pablo Sandoval and the San Francisco Giants.
The 27-year-old Luebke has allowed just two earned runs in his past three starts and won his second game in a row on Saturday. After tossing seven innings of one-run ball to beat the Rockies on April 16, Luebke logged eight scoreless innings to beat the Phillies and Roy Halladay last weekend.
The left-hander scattered tow hits and two walks with dive strikeouts, moving to 2-1 through four starts this season with a 2.52 earned run average. He is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in his career versus the Giants.
Luebke will try to prevent Sandoval from extending his season-opening hit streak, which reached a franchise-record 19 straight games in Thursday's 6-5 win over the Reds. Sandoval's leadoff single in the fourth broke Johnny Rucker's former record of 18 consecutive games to begin the 1945 campaign.
Sandoval is 4-for-9 lifetime versus Luebke with a triple, RBI and four strikeouts. He is hitting .333 on the season with three homers and 13 RBI.
While Sandoval made club history, Angel Pagan blasted his team to victory thanks to a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning.
"He threw it in my zone," Pagan said. "I just tried to put it in play, and it went out of the park."
Pagan's heroics allowed the Giants to salvage the finale of the three-game series and win for the sixth time in nine games.
The Padres also used clutch hitting to win a 2-1 decision over the Nationals on Thursday. San Diego was held off the board until Mark Kotsay came through with a pinch-hit double in the bottom of the eighth off Tyler Clippard that brought home two runs.
"That's one of those games where a veteran, experienced hitter came up and had a good at-bat against a very talented relief pitcher," said San Diego manager Bud Black.
Despite finishing 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, the Padres won for the third time in their last five games.
The Giants had yet to officially name a starter as of Thursday night, though the agent of Triple-A pitcher Eric Hacker tweeted on Wednesday that the right- hander would be recalled to start tonight's game. San Francisco and manager Bruce Bochy would not confirm that move on Thursday.
A doubleheader on Monday is the reason the Giants need an extra starter for this matchup and Hacker has delivered so far in Triple-A. The 29-year-old is 4-0 with a 2.19 ERA through four starts.
Hacker has never made a start in the majors, but does own a career 2.16 ERA through five relief outings. Three of those came with the Pirates in 2009 and he pitched in two games last season with the Twins.
The Giants won 12 of 18 versus the Padres last season.