Based on how they've performed at PNC Park coupled with San Diego's play on the road, the Pittsburgh Pirates should be able to end their lengthy home losing streak to the Padres.
Of course, if scheduled starter James McDonald 's struggles continue, another defeat could be imminent.
McDonald again hopes to break out of his second-half funk and help the Pirates avoid losing a 10th straight home game to San Diego in Friday night's series opener.
Pittsburgh (63-48) lost 6-3 to Arizona on Thursday, but it's still in control of the NL's second wild-card spot thanks largely to a major league-best 35-18 home record. It has lost only one of its last 10 series at PNC Park and is one victory away from matching last season's win total there.
The Padres (49-64), meanwhile, own the majors' fifth-worst road record at 22-34, and have lost five of six away from San Diego.
Despite their recent road woes, they've been quite comfortable playing in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates have been outscored 72-25 in losing their last nine home games against the Padres since a 5-1 win Sept. 18, 2009. This is Pittsburgh's longest active home losing streak against a single opponent, and San Diego's longest current road winning streak over any foe.
The Padres' three-game sweep at PNC Park last Aug. 5-7 - the most recent meetings between these teams - capped a 10-game losing streak for the Pirates and effectively ended their postseason hopes.
The catalyst behind Pittsburgh's playoff push this year is Andrew McCutchen , the majors' batting leader with a .369 average. He has hit .417 in his last 13 home games and is 4 for 8 with a homer, a triple and a double lifetime against scheduled San Diego starter Edinson Volquez (7-8, 3.73 ERA).
McDonald (10-5, 3.42) was also instrumental to Pittsburgh's first-half success, posting a 2.37 ERA before the All-Star break with the Pirates winning 12 of his 17 starts. He has a 7.76 ERA in five outings since, with Pittsburgh losing four times.
Against Cincinnati on Saturday, he gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings of the Pirates' 5-4 loss. One bright spot for the right-hander, though, was that he only walked one after issuing 19 bases on balls in 20 2-3 innings over his previous four outings.
This will be his first start against the Padres since allowing two runs in six innings of a 4-3 road win May 2, 2011.
San Diego opens a seven-game road trip riding a four-game winning streak after beating the Chicago Cubs 2-0 on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep.
Chase Headley , the team leader with 15 homers and 62 RBIs, is batting .385 with three home runs and 11 RBIs over his last 11 games. He is also hitting .355 with two homers, five doubles and nine RBIs during the winning streak in Pittsburgh.
Volquez, who has a 2.16 ERA in three career starts at PNC Park, is hoping to be healed from a blister that caused him trouble in Saturday's 6-2 loss to the New York Mets . The right-hander was done after 1 2-3 innings, allowing four runs, two hits and four walks - increasing his major league-worst total to 80 bases on balls.
"His mechanics were out of whack, as much as I've seen him this season," manager Bud Black said.
Volquez now has a 12.15 ERA in his last two starts after going 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA in his previous six.
|San Diego Padres|
|July 31, 2012||Yasmani Grandal||15-Day DL||Strained oblique|
|July 28, 2012||Joe Thatcher||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|July 26, 2012||Joe Thatcher||15-Day DL||Right knee tendinitis|
|July 18, 2012||Cameron Maybin||Day-to-Day||Sore right wrist|
|July 04, 2012||Andrew Cashner||15-Day DL||Strained muscle in right side|
|June 21, 2012||Anthony Bass||60-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|July 18, 2012||Juan Cruz||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|July 05, 2012||Alex Presley||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 05, 2012||Alex Presley||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 30, 2012||Andrew McCutchen||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained left wrist|
|June 25, 2012||Rod Barajas||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left knee|
|May 30, 2012||Charlie Morton||60-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Chase Headley says he feels more comfortable playing at PNC Park than any other road park in the NL. So do the rest of his San Diego Padres teammates.
Headley homered from both sides of the plate for the first time in his career and drove in five runs to rally the Padres to a 9-8 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Headley hit a three-run home run to cap a six-run fifth inning that tied the game 7-7. His two-run blast in the seventh put San Diego ahead 9-8 after Rod Barajas had given Pittsburgh the lead with an RBI single in the sixth.
"You don't hit two bigger homers than that, one to tie the game, the other to win the game, and five big ribbies," Padres manager Bud Black said.
San Diego ran its winning streak in Pittsburgh to 10 games and hasn't lost at PNC Park since Sept. 18, 2009. The Padres have won five straight games overall.
"This is my favorite place to play on the road because it's such a beautiful ballpark and I have a lot of family here," said Headley, whose parents grew up in Meadville, Pa., about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh, before moving to Colorado.
"It's always exciting for me to come here and it seems like the whole team gets excited," he said. "I don't know the exact reason why but we always seem to play our best baseball here."
Headley's go-ahead home run came off left-hander Tony Watson (5-2), who entered the game with two outs in the seventh inning and walked Everth Cabrera . Headley followed with his 17th homer.
"I've worked hard on my right-handed swing in an effort to be able to hit for more power from that side," Headley said. "It's neat to hit a home run from each side of the plate. It's something that doesn't happen every day."
Headley went 2 for 4 and is hitting .333 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in his last 12 games.
Brad Brach (1-2) got his first major league win, allowing one run in two innings while striking out three. Huston Street pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 21st save in as many opportunities.
Street strained his right calf on the final play of the game as he broke to cover first base on pinch-hitter Michael McKenry 's ground ball to the right side of the infield. First baseman Yonder Alonso wound up making the play himself when Street pulled up.
"I hope I'm wrong but my premonition is that he's going to be out for a while," Black said.
"You hope you wake up and it feels better in the morning," Street said. "Hopefully, it heals sooner rather than later."
Alexi Amarista of the Padres had two hits and two RBIs, including a home run to lead off the game, his fifth.
Travis Snider hit a three-run homer for the Pirates, his first since being acquired July 30 in a trade. Garrett Jones homered for the Pirates and Pedro Alvarez had two hits and two RBIs.
The teams traded big innings while batting around with San Diego scoring six runs in the fifth off James McDonald to tie the game 7-7 after Pittsburgh had a five-run fourth.
Headley's three-run homer knocked McDonald from the game. Pinch-hitter Jesus Guzman hit a two-run double and scored on Amarista's single before Headley's blast to center field.
The Pirates got their five runs in the fourth on Snider's three-run home run and Alvarez's two-run single.
"It's tough to lose a game like this but there aren't too many seasons where you don't have a game or two like this and maybe a lot more if you don't have a good club," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "We'll claw back, though, because that's what we do."
McDonald's second-half woes continued as he was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. He is 1-2 with an 8.71 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break after going 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA in 17 first-half starts.
"It's unacceptable," McDonald said of blowing a six-run lead. "It shouldn't happen. I let my guys down. Nobody feels worse than me."
San Diego starter Edinson Volquez didn't make it out of the fourth inning as he was charged with six runs in 3 1-3 innings while allowing seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts. He has a 13.50 ERA in his last three starts, giving up 15 runs in 10 innings after going 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA in his previous six starts.
After Amarista gave the Padres a 1-0 lead, the Pirates moved in front as Starling Marte singled home a run in the second and Jones homered in the third.
Notes: San Diego rookie C Yasmani Grandal , on the DL with a strained oblique, hit off a tee before the game and is expected to take batting practice on the field Saturday. The Padres, though, have yet to set a timetable for his return. ... Because of the spacious left-field gap at PNC Park, Black had LF Will Venable and RF Carlos Quentin switch positions. ... RHP A.J. Burnett (14-3, 3.19) will try to become Pittsburgh's first 15-game winner since Todd Ritchie in 1999 when he pitches against San Diego RHP Jason Marquis (5-6, 4.10) on Saturday night. Burnett has won 13 of his last 14 decisions and Marquis has won four of his last five starts.