The Arizona Diamondbacks suffered an ugly end to their road trip after two promising previous series. A return home to face the lowly and road-challenged San Diego Padres might be just what they need to get back on track.
The Diamondbacks open a short five-game homestand with three against the Padres in a matchup of NL West bottom-feeders Friday night.
Arizona (21-28) rolled into Pittsburgh on Tuesday having taken two of three at St. Louis following a three-game home series victory over the New York Mets, but the Diamondbacks couldn't maintain that level against the Pirates. They lost 8-3 on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep in which they were outscored 25-8.
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"We had opportunity - opportunity after opportunity - to score runs early in the game and we did not execute," manager Chip Hale told MLB's official website. "That's something that we're going to get better at. The younger guys are getting more experience in these pressure-type situations, and at some point it's going to turn and instead of hitting a ground ball to the pitcher or a popup, they're going to drive the ball in the gap and we're going to score a bunch of runs."
Hale said Wednesday that his level of concern regarding his bullpen was "rising," and that trend continued Thursday. Andrew Chafin allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings to give the bullpen a 9.69 ERA in the last five games.
Michael Bourn went 2 for 3 to make him 7 for his last 14, while Brandon Drury was 2 for 5 and is 5 for 16 over the past four games.
San Diego (19-29) is also coming off a sweep, dropping three games at San Francisco, and has lost four straight away from home to fall to 9-14 there. The Padres' troubles in one-run games continued as they dropped to 4-12 after Wednesday's 4-3, 10-inning loss.
"If you want to play winning baseball and get to the playoffs you have to find a way to win these games," Shields said. "We're not getting it done."
San Diego has lost four in a row overall and eight of 10.
The Padres will send out Christian Friedrich (0-1, 2.89) for his third start of the season. He lasted only 3 1/3 innings last Friday, giving up two runs, six hits and three walks while throwing 75 pitches in a 7-6 home win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The left-hander has faced the Padres 13 times, though only one of those appearances was a start. He's posted a 1.69 ERA over 16 innings in those matchups.
Arizona's Rickie Weeks is 4 for 7 against Friedrich with a homer, triple and double.
Friedrich will be opposed by Robbie Ray (2-3, 4.18 ERA), who's allowed three earned runs in 12 innings over the past two starts. He's 1-3 in his last five outings, during which he received no runs of support in four of them.
Ray has thrown more than 100 pitches in each of his last four starts but made it to the sixth inning once in that span.
The left-hander has lost all three career starts against San Diego - each coming last season - with a 4.96 ERA. Matt Kemp is 3 for 8 with a home run and a double against him, while Derek Norris is 2 for 6 with a homer and a double.
Arizona took two of three April 15-27 at Petco Park in the teams' first meeting this season.