MLB

Chacin on the mound for Padres Friday vs Royals

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Padres return home to face the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.

And that brings a smile to the mug of Padres starter Jhoulys Chacin.

The Padres right-hander will be matched up with Royals rookie left-hander Eric Skoglund in the opener of a three-game series.

Chacin (4-5, 4.65 ERA) lost his last time out at Petco Park, and that was a rarity. He allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings to the Colorado Rockies, his lone stumble in five home starts this year.

Even with the rocky showing Saturday, he has pitched to a 1.36 ERA in San Diego. His slider is showing more bite by the San Diego Bay, with hitters batting .176 against it.

So it has roughly been sink (on the road) or swim (at Petco) for the veteran right-hander who signed with San Diego in the offseason.

Before getting beat by the Rockies, Chacin had been charged with two runs over 27 innings at home. But his numbers on the road are the other way in a big way: In 30 2/3 innings, he has surrendered 36 runs (35 earned).

While the Rockies went on to take a 10-1 laugher on Saturday, Chacin pitched better than his line revealed. His trademark slider got pummeled by Nolan Arenado for a homer, but that was among his few mistakes.

"That pitch to Arenado, I hung it," Chacin said. "When you hang your slider to a good hitter like Arenado, you're going to pay for it."

In catcher Austin Hedges' eyes, Chacin was sharp the entire outing.

"I thought he was outstanding," Hedges said. "One bad pitch to Arenado, but aside from that, he was great. The slider and the sinker were working very well. They're a good team, and they're tough to pitch to."

Chacin is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in one career start against Kansas City, back in 2014.

The Padres are coming off a tough, albeit abbreviated, losing road trip. They were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-game series, getting outscored 32-9.

San Diego looks to snap a five-game losing streak that comes on the heels of a season-high, five-game winning run. The hot stretch included a three-game sweep of the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

The Royals arrive at Petco Park following a split with the major-league-leading Houston Astros, who won the series finale 6-1 on Thursday in Kansas City.

Skoglund (1-1, 4.32 ERA) hopes to resemble the pitcher he was in his major league debut, when he dominated the Detroit Tigers on May 30, and not the one who was pushed around by the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.

The lanky southpaw learned against the Tribe that pitching from behind is no way to succeed. He gave up two two-run doubles in a rain-shortened outing in which he faced just 11 batters and lasted two innings.

"I made some mistakes on pitches up that you won't get away with up here," Skoglund said. "That's how important first-pitch strikes are here. I didn't take advantage. I didn't execute."

It wasn't much of an encore after Skoglund hurled 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Tigers.

He absorbed a valuable lesson against the Indians; he is not the first rookie to go down that path.

"Up here, you have to get ahead in the count," he said. "You have to throw first-pitch strikes."

The swing-and-miss Padres could be Skoglund's tonic, although the Royals are smarting as well after being no-hit for the first 6 1/3 innings by the Astros' Lance McCullers Jr. on Thursday.