Phillies-Padres Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 19, 2012
The Philadelphia Phillies are in last place in the NL East and are coming off their most discouraging defeat. A visit to San Diego might be just what they need. The Phillies go for their 12th straight victory at Petco Park on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series with the Padres. Playing without the injured Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, Philadelphia (5-7) is struggling to generate much offense, hitting six homers and plating two runs or fewer seven times. The Phillies managed a season-low four hits in a 1-0, 11-inning loss to San Francisco on Wednesday as the highly anticipated matchup between Cliff Lee and Matt Cain lived up to the billing. Cain allowed two hits in nine innings and Lee gave up seven hits in 10, but walked away with nothing to show for it. "It was a classic pitchers' duel,'' Lee said. "I'd rather give up two runs and get the win though. Any time you lose it's disappointing." A series at Petco Park might not be the answer to get the offense on track, but it could help Philadelphia get back to .500. The Phillies have limited the Padres to 16 runs in winning the last 11 meetings - the longest active road winning streak by one team over another - including three runs in their last five. Philadelphia has also won 24 of its last 28 games at Petco and 17 of the last 20 meetings overall. Vance Worley (0-1, 3.75 ERA) will get the ball in the opener in his first career appearance against San Diego. The right-hander gave up four runs, eight hits and four walks in six innings of a 5-0 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday after permitting a run, five hits and a walk in six innings against Pittsburgh in his season debut. While Philadelphia's pitchers have enjoyed taking the ball at spacious Petco, the offense hasn't had as much success, plating three runs or fewer six times during the winning streak. Shane Victorino is hitting .205 with a homer and five RBIs in the last 11 in San Diego, while Jimmy Rollins is batting .238 with two RBIs in his last six games there. Hunter Pence is leading Philadelphia's offense early with two homers, seven RBIs and a .326 average, but he could have trouble in his first game at Petco in a Phillies uniform. The two-time All-Star is batting .175 in 15 games at Petco, his lowest average at any current ballpark. Philadelphia could have an advantage, however, in facing Joe Wieland (0-1, 10.80), who is coming off a shaky major league debut. Against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, Wieland immediately got into trouble, allowing four runs in the first inning and two in the second. The right-hander eventually settled down and retired 10 of the final 12 batters he faced to get through five. "First-time jitters definitely affected me in that first inning," said Wieland, who allowed three homers in the 6-1 loss. "I needed to control my emotions a little bit better.'' The Padres (3-10) enter this series after suffering an 8-4 loss to Colorado on Wednesday, their sixth defeat in seven games. One bright spot for San Diego, though, has been Chase Headley's fast start. Headley had his first career multihomer game Wednesday, and has hit four home runs in 46 at-bats in 13 games, as many as he hit in 113 games and 381 at-bats last season. "I'm not going up there trying to hit home runs, but I do think there's a lot more power in there that really hadn't been shown the last couple years,'' said Headley, who has 12 RBIs and a .414 on-base percentage.
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