Brandon McCarthy set the bar high his last time out, so the Arizona Diamondbacks should expect nothing less than another strong outing Friday in the opener of a three-game series versus the San Diego Padres at Chase Field.
McCarthy tossed a three-hit shutout, his first this season and third of his career, in Saturday's 1-0 win at Miami. He struck out five and allowed two walks for his first win of the season, improving to 1-3 in nine chances to go along with a 4.74 earned run average.
"I was spotty at first," McCarthy said. "As good as I've felt the last few times, coming out again I just wasn't there, I wasn't sharp, but I had a focus point that I wanted to get back to. About the second inning on, I was able to get back to that and at least repeat my delivery and was able to kind of turn the game over in my favor instead of the first where everything was a little up and a little too hittable."
The right-hander, who is 0-2 in five starts in the desert, has never faced the Padres after spending the start of his career in the American League with stints in Chicago, Texas and Oakland.
Arizona dropped the last two matchups of a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies and suffered a 4-1 loss in Wednesday's series finale from Coors Field. Arizona starter Trevor Cahill surrendered all four runs in six innings of work, with Wil Nieves finishing 2-for-4 with a run-scoring double in the loss.
"(The Rockies) out-executed us offensively," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "We didn't drive anybody in even though they only had seven hits."
Diamondbacks first basemen Paul Goldschmidt was 0-for-4 against the Rockies, but is batting .357 with six doubles, seven homers and 18 RBI in 20 games this month.
The D'backs are tied with Colorado and San Francisco atop the NL West standings and have lost three of four games since a four-game winning streak. They are set to play five in a row at home and own a 12-11 record as the host.
San Diego is 4 1/2 games off the pace in the NL West and will hit the road for five games against Arizona and Seattle. The Padres lost the last two games of a three-game set to the St. Louis Cardinals and were handed a 5-3 loss on Wednesday at Petco Park.
Padres rookie hurler Burch Smith for the second time in three career starting assignments failed to make it through the second inning. He was optioned to Triple-A Tucson following the game and allowed four runs, three in the first inning, and five hits in just an inning of work.
"Whenever you do have a bad outing, the doubts start creeping in. I know that I'm better than that and I'm not going to let it affect me," Smith said.
Jedd Gyorko homered and Alexi Amarista added two hits and two RBI in the loss. San Diego had won three in a row and five of seven until losing back-to-back contests.
The Padres aim to bounce back with Eric Stults on the hill Friday. San Diego is 4-1 in Stults' last five starts and recorded a 2-1 win Saturday versus Washington. Stults cruised through eight innings in that one and allowed only a run and four hits, pushing his season mark to 4-3 in nine starts with a 4.05 ERA.
Stults has prevailed in two of his past three outings and is 3-2 with a 4.36 ERA in seven career meetings (5 starts) with the Diamondbacks.
San Diego took two of three games versus Arizona at home from May 3-5, including a 5-1 victory in the series finale. The Padres won 11 of the 18 meetings last season.