Padres, D-backs begin battle for NL West basement

SAN DIEGO -- These are not good times for the San Diego Padres.

On Saturday night, third baseman Yangervis Solarte's wife, Yuliette, died at age 31 due to complications from her fight against cancer.

"We're broken-hearted for Yangervis," Padres manager Andy Green said Sunday. "We know he and his family have been dealing with this throughout the season. Right now, there are things that are so much more important to baseball."

Then on Sunday afternoon, the Padres took a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies and absorbed a three-game sweep at Coors Field.

Solarte is away from the team. Catcher Derek Norris is day-to-day with an injured finger, and the Padres are playing without a right-handed-hitting outfielder. General manager A.J. Preller starts his 30-day, Major League Baseball-mandated suspension Monday.

And any help that might be coming from El Paso is another three days away because the Chihuahuas are headed to Tuesday night's Triple-A Championship Game against International League champion Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (New York Yankees) after winning the Pacific Coast League championship Saturday night.

On Monday night, the ailing Padres open a 10-game homestand.

As if they need a reminder of how tough this season has been, the Padres (62-87) open the homestand with three games against Arizona (63-86). Over the last two weeks of the season, the Padres and Diamondbacks will play six times essentially to see who finishes last in the National League West and possibly enters the offseason with the second-worst record in the National League.

Not that matters are much better for the Diamondbacks.

While Green seems secure in his job, Arizona manager Chip Hale, his former boss, is one of several Diamondbacks leaders who could be two weeks away from the unemployment line.

Matters are that dire in the southwest corner of the United States.

The matchup Monday will see Arizona right-hander Braden Shipley (4-3, 5.56 ERA) oppose left-hander Clayton Richard (2-3, 3.00 ERA). Richard is 2-2 with a 1.70 ERA in eight appearances (six starts) since returning to the Padres in August as a free agent.

Richard's return to San Diego is easily explained. One, Clayton and Ashley Richard enjoy living in San Diego. Two, as Clayton says, "The Padres promised me a chance to start."

Shipley, 24, the Diamondbacks' first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2013 draft, will be making his ninth start -- and second at Petco Park -- after two straight appearances out of the Arizona bullpen.

"It's different," Shipley said of the second and third relief outings in his 91-appearance professional career. "As pitchers, we're so routine oriented that my whole pregame ritual was thrown off a bit."

Shipley picked up his fourth win of his rookie season as a reliever against the Rockies on Wednesday, although he allowed five runs on eight hits in four innings. In fact, his ERA in two relief appearances is 9.39.

He made one previous start against the Padres on Aug. 21 in San Diego and took the loss, allowing seven runs on seven hits -- including homers to left-handed-hitting outfielders Travis Jankowski and Alex Dickerson -- in 5 1/3 innings.

Richard absorbed the loss the previous day when he made a pair of throwing errors that led to two unearned runs -- the only runs he allowed over six innings in a 2-1 loss. In four starts since, Richard is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA -- and the Padres are 4-0.