|San Diego Padres Can Forge First Place Tie With Arizona Diamondbacks|
|Wednesday, 29 August 2007 13:00|
Padres Making Move
Greg Maddux is having another solid season, and the San Diego Padres have benefited from his efforts. They hope Maddux's recent success can move them to the top of the NL West.
The four-time NL Cy Young Award winner seeks his fourth straight win as the Padres continue their four-game series against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park on Wednesday.
San Diego (72-59) has won six of its last seven games to move within one game of Arizona (74-59) in the NL West following Tuesday's 6-4 win. The Padres have taken the first two games of the series and have won three straight against the Diamondbacks for the first time since last Aug. 29-Sept. 19.
It's also the Padres' longest home win streak versus their division rivals since they took 10 in a row from April 7, 2004-April 30, 2005.
"We just need to forget about these two and concentrate," said Diamondbacks first baseman Conor Jackson, who was 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs in Tuesday's loss. "If we can win the next two, we leave here with the same lead we came in with."
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made San Diego -145 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on Arizona +135 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Maddux (10-9, 3.90 ERA), though, will try to give the Padres a share of the division lead. Last week, the 41-year-old became the first pitcher in major league history to have at least 10 wins in 20 consecutive seasons. He passed Cy Young on the all-time list and is now tied with Nolan Ryan for second behind Don Sutton, who both had 21 seasons with at least 10 wins.
The veteran right-hander has won three straight starts for the first time since last July 24-Aug. 3, 2006, while playing for both the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He now looks for his longest winning streak since taking five straight from April 7-28, 2006, while with the Cubs.
He secured his 343rd career victory - good for ninth all-time - after allowing three runs over seven innings in the Padres' 14-3 rout at Philadelphia on Friday. Maddux has give up three earned runs or fewer in 20 of his 27 starts, including each of his last eight appearances. Maddux also hasn't walked a batter in 31 innings over his last five starts.
"He's a tremendous pitcher," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He keeps on rolling. I'm just amazed the intelligence and preparation he has going into every start. He's a great athlete and a great competitor."
Despite his storied career, Maddux has been awful against the Diamondbacks. He is just 1-10 with a 5.28 ERA in 16 career starts, and 0-8 with a 6.58 ERA in his last 12 after his only win on Sept. 7, 2000, while pitching for the Atlanta Braves.
Maddux allowed four runs and nine hits in four innings of the Padres' 8-3 loss at Arizona on July 13. He has never faced the Diamondbacks at Petco Park, where he is 7-4 with a 3.28 ERA in 13 home starts.
Arizona couldn't suppress the Padres' momentum behind 2006 Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb, who was tagged for a season-high six runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings on Tuesday, ending his six-start winning streak.
"We beat a good pitcher today," said Padres center fielder Mike Cameron, whose sixth-inning homer started a four-run rally. "It's going to take that down the stretch in order for us to approach the goal we need to get to, a chance to play in the postseason."
Shortstop Khalil Greene had two RBIs in the rally, and has hit .385 (15-for-39) with seven RBIs since Aug. 19.
Diamondbacks pitcher Micah Owings (6-7, 4.69) will try to overcome his recent struggles. He has gone 1-6 with a 5.37 ERA in his last 12 appearances - 11 starts - since June 25. The 23-year-old allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings in a 6-2 loss to Chicago on Friday.
"I feel like I gave the team a chance to win and that's all I can concentrate on doing," Owings said.
The right-hander did not receive a decision in his only appearance against the Padres, limiting them to one run and four hits in six innings of Arizona's 9-5, 11-inning victory on Aug. 1.
by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us
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