James Shields has a way of waking up a typically modest San Diego offense. The Padres right-hander has benefited from the late-season run support, while the Arizona Diamondbacks have already fallen on the opposite end of the spectrum.
San Diego will look to continue backing Shields on Sunday to finish off its third consecutive series victory over the visiting Diamondbacks.
The Padres (73-82) have scored in double-digits three times since Sept. 4, all in support of Shields. The 10-year veteran rode 31 runs from his offense to win all three starts despite a 4.12 ERA.
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Shields (13-6, 3.86 ERA) has a MLB-high 10.18 run-support average in seven starts since Aug. 18 - more than double his 5.05 mark through his first 25 outings.
A 10-3 win over Arizona (74-81) on Sept. 14 was the middle start of Shields' three consecutive wins. He held the Diamondbacks to one run in seven innings.
Although Shields' ERA is above his season mark in his last three outings, opponents have hit just .194 against him, aided by six hits allowed in his last 13 2-3 innings.
The Padres won only twice from Sept. 9-14 - both victories coming in starts made by Shields - but Saturday's 3-0 victory gave them three wins in four games overall to somewhat brighten the final stretch of an otherwise dim season.
"That is what it is all about," Shields told MLB's official website. "Being able to finish strong and going into next season feeling good."
Saturday's win gave the Padres a 10-8 record against the Diamondbacks this year and guaranteed their third series victory in four years against the NL West foe.
Arizona is looking to ignite an offense that has scored 10 runs in its last four games and managed just four hits Saturday against little-used Robbie Erlin and relievers Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel.
Aaron Hill has a pair of doubles and four home runs against Shields while hitting .289 against him over 38 career at-bats. A.J. Pollock (4 for 9), Paul Goldschmidt (4 for 8), David Peralta (3 for 6) and Chris Owings (1 for 6) have all homered this season against Shields, who is 2-2 with a 6.00 ERA in his last four career starts against Arizona.
The Diamondbacks have lost three of four and counter with Zack Godley, even though they initially said the rookie right-hander was making his final start Sept. 9.
The club was hoping to get Godley (5-1, 3.48) some bullpen work but had little opportunity the last two weeks. Instead, Godley will make an abbreviated start before the Diamondbacks turn to ball over to Jhoulys Chacin, according to MLB's official website.
Godley is 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts this season. His only appearance against San Diego came in relief Sept. 15, when he allowed one run in 1 1-3 innings of a 6-4 win.
Arizona closes at home with three apiece against Colorado and Houston, which currently holds the AL's second wild-card spot. Rubby De La Rosa and Jeremy Hellickson are set to start that final series, while manager Chip Hale said Robbie Ray may start the finale.
"We may want him to get the start and get those innings in and build him up to where we want for next year," Hale told MLB's website.