MLB

Padres host 1st place Rockies for weekend series

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Padres are on a bit of a roll as the Colorado Rockies start their second visit of the season to Petco Park on Friday night.

San Diego (22-33) has won four in a row for the first time since August 2015 after a three-game sweep of the reigning World Champion Chicago Cubs. The Padres have also won seven of their last 10 games.

"We played solid baseball in all three aspects of the game, pitching, timely hitting and defense," San Diego manager Andy Green said after the Padres outscored (13-5) and outhit (22-12) the Cubs.

But this weekend could be a bigger challenge for San Diego. While the Padres are tied at the bottom of the National League West standings, Colorado -- managed by former San Diego manager Bud Black -- is tied at the top.

The Padres and Rockies have split their first six games of the season, with Colorado winning two of the first three contests at Petco Park in what was something of a strange experience for Black, who managed the Padres for 8 1/2 seasons from 2007 to midway through the 2015 season.

Before the Rockies' first visit to Petco Park this season, Black had never been in the visiting clubhouse or dugout. "Everything was new," Black said. "I had to park outside in a different lot."

When Black sees the Padres on Friday, his Rockies will be pitted against a pitcher that Black managed with the Padres: left-hander Clayton Richard. But it's not exactly the same Richard who was first with the Padres from 2009 to 2013.

He rode his fastball back then; but, after two rounds of surgery, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound former Michigan quarterback dropped his arm angle a bit and has reinvented himself as a sinkerball pitcher with one of the highest ground-ball rates in the majors.

"If the sinker is working, Clayton is going to get ground balls," Green said. "It's up to the defense to field them and throw the runners out."

Richard will be making his 12th start Friday night. While his record is only 3-6, his 4.33 ERA is the second-lowest among Padres starters who have made at least five starts. Richard has the Padres' only complete game of the season and has three quality starts in his last four outings while averaging seven innings during that span. His ERA over his last four outings is 3.54.

Richard, 33, will be facing the Rockies for the first time this season.

Colorado's German Marquez, a 22-year-old Venezuelan, makes his first start against the Padres. Marquez is 4-2 with a 3.76 ERA this season since being promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Marquez is 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his last four starts, allowing 22 hits and seven walks and striking out 22 in 24 2/3 innings. He is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA on the road this season.

Although this will be his first start against the Padres, Marquez faced them twice in relief last season. He made his major league debut at Petco Park last Sept. 8, allowing three runs on two hits and three walks with two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings.