With their previously anemic offense finally putting up some runs, the San Diego Padres are in position to win their first series in nearly three weeks at Petco Park.
Zack Wheeler will try to halt the rare scoring surge while extending his strong stretch for the New York Mets.As the Padres aim to push across four runs or more in three straight contests for the first time since May, Wheeler and the Mets will try to bounce back with their ninth win in 11 games in Sunday's series finale.San Diego (42-55) ranks last in the majors with a .214 average and 3.0 runs per game, but its lineup has shown signs of life in splitting the first two of this three-game set.The Padres have totaled 10 runs while going 4 for 11 with runners in scoring position, marking the first time they've scored at least four in back-to-back contests since June 23-24. They haven't done it in three straight since a six-game span from May 25-31.Seth Smith, Yasmani Grandal and Will Venable each homered Saturday to give San Diego its first three-homer game since May 18."There were some good swings on good counts," manager Bud Black said following his club's third win in 11 games.The Padres haven't won a series since a three-game home sweep of Cincinnati from June 30-July 2 and could have a tough time against Wheeler (5-8, 3.90 ERA).Since allowing a season-high six earned runs over two innings in an 8-5 home loss to Oakland on June 25, Wheeler has gone 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his last three starts for the Mets (46-51). The right-hander gave up one run over 6 2/3 innings in a 7-1 home win over Miami on July 11.Wheeler did not factor in the decision in his only outing in San Diego on Aug. 15 when he surrendered one run with a career-high 12 strikeouts over six innings in a 4-1 victory. He wasn't nearly as effective in his only start against the Padres this season, allowing four runs over five innings in a 5-0 home loss June 14.San Diego counters with Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1, 1.35), who looks to continue an outstanding start to his career. The rookie right-hander has limited opponents to two runs or less while working into the seventh inning in three of his four starts.In his most recent outing July 10, Despaigne allowed season highs of two runs and seven hits with a season-best seven strikeouts over seven innings in a 2-1 road loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.He'll face a New York team that averaged 6.5 runs and batted .296 during a four-game win streak before All-Star Tyson Ross and three relievers held them to five hits Saturday."You have to hit, that's the name of the game," manager Terry Collins said after the Mets were shut out for the first time since Wheeler's June start against the Padres.New York catcher Travis d'Arnaud went 1 for 4 Saturday and is hitting .325 with eight RBIs in his last 10 games, while outfielder Juan Lagares is batting .333 with five RBIs in his last five.David Wright, however, has gone 0 for 8 in this series and is hitless in 19 at-bats in his last six meetings with the Padres.