Padres at Pirates
Riding a hot streak that has propelled them into first place in the National League Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates will resume their nine-game homestand with the first of four against the San Diego Padres on Thursday night. The Pirates completed a two-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday for their seventh victory in the last eight games.
The Pirates improved to a major league-best 10-2 in interleague play despite missing center fielder Starling Marte and catcher Francisco Cervelli, who are listed as day-to-day after they were injured in Tuesday's game. Sean Rodriguez had an RBI triple after replacing Marte on Tuesday and delivered a two-run double the following day as Pittsburgh boosted its record at PNC Park to 14-6. The Padres opened their nine-game homestand by dropping four of five but bounced back to win three of the next four, culminating with a 4-0 victory over Colorado on Wednesday. Sitting in last place in the NL West despite playing a major league-high 29 games at home, San Diego kicks off a 10-game road trip with its visit to Pittsburgh.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FS San Diego, AT&T SportsNet-Pittsburgh
PITCHING MATCHUP: Padres LH Eric Lauer (1-2, 8.27 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Chad Kuhl (4-2, 4.17)
Lauer followed the best start of his brief major league career with his worst, getting rocked for six runs and serving up four homers in only 2 1/3 innings in a home loss to St. Louis last time out. The 2016 first-round draft pick earned his first win in his previous start by blanking the Los Angeles Dodgers on seven hits over six innings. Opponents are batting a robust .365 against Lauer.
Kuhl registered his fourth quality start in his last five outings but had to settle for a no-decision against San Francisco after giving up three runs and six hits over six innings on Saturday. One issue for the 25-year-old is the long ball -- he is 3-1 over his last five starts but has yielded eight homers in that span. Kuhl has held Freddy Galvis and Wil Myers to a combined 0-for-11.
1. Pirates 1B Josh Bell drove in the tiebreaking run with a pinch-hit single Wednesday, his ninth RBI in eight games.
2. Padres OF Travis Jankowski has multiple hits in five of his last nine games.
3. Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez has converted all eight save opportunities.