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May 2, 2024 8:52 pm

Padres, Diamondbacks look to heat up in NL West

Jake Cronenworth

As the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be rounding into the form widely expected before the season started, the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks need wins to try to keep pace in the National League West.

They’ll try to use each other as the vehicle to do so when they start a three-game series on Friday night in Phoenix.

Both teams enter the weekend under .500, although San Diego at least can claim momentum after consecutive victories over Cincinnati that gave it its first series win in two weeks. After a 6-4 win on Tuesday night, the Padres used Jake Cronenworth’s seventh-inning grand slam Wednesday for a 6-2 decision in the rubber game.

The two triumphs snapped a five-game losing streak that had San Diego four games under .500.

“Big,” said pitcher Joe Musgrove, who fanned a season-high nine over six innings on Wednesday. “Tough little stretch … to pull one out (Tuesday) night and then come out here and another close one and have Jake bust it open late in the game … good momentum.”

The Padres are hopeful that right-hander Dylan Cease (3-2, 2.78 ERA) will keep things trending in the right direction on Friday night. Cease’s last outing was a 5-1 loss Saturday night to Philadelphia, which touched him for six hits and five runs in six innings with three walks and five strikeouts.

Cease was coming off a stretch of three starts where he allowed just five hits and two earned runs in 19 innings, winning all three outings. Alec Bohm gave him the most trouble on Saturday night, ripping a two-run homer and a two-run single.

In his only career outing against Arizona on Aug. 28, 2022, Cease was pitching for the Chicago White Sox. He did not get a decision despite tossing eight dominant innings. He permitted only two hits and two runs with one walk and eight strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks aren’t off to the encore they hoped for after piecing together a stunning run to the World Series last fall. They fell to 14-18 with an 8-0 loss Wednesday night at home against the Dodgers.

And they’ll have to skip the turn of ace right-hander Zac Gallen until they start an eastern road swing Tuesday night in Cincinnati. Gallen left his previous start on April 26 in Seattle with a tight hamstring, and manager Torey Lovullo opted to err on caution’s side.

“I just want to be as safe as I can with one of the best pitchers in the National League,” Lovullo said.

Arizona will instead give the ball to young right-hander Slade Cecconi (1-1, 2.25). He’s coming off a hard-luck 3-1 loss Saturday night in Seattle, where he allowed just three hits and a run in six innings with a walk and eight strikeouts. But Mariners starter George Kirby got the win, fanning 12 over seven shutout innings.

Cecconi will make his first career start against San Diego; he pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief against the Padres in a game last August.

The Diamondbacks have won just five of their last 14 games and a lack of offense has been the prime issue. They’ve been held to three runs or fewer eight times in those nine losses.

–Field Level Media

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