MLB Insiders: San Diego Padres

The Pirates open a three-game series in San Diego on Tuesday night. Right-hander Jeff Karstens will be on the mound for the Bucs. The Padres will toss lefty Wade LeBlanc.

The San Diego Padres failed to take advantage during a road trip last week against the two worst teams in the NL West. Facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, though, gives them a good opportunity to build some momentum before a big division showdown.

The Padres look to win their seventh straight against the NL-worst Pirates when the West leaders begin a three-game series Tuesday night at Petco Park.

Wade LeBlanc (5-10, 3.61 ERA) gets the start for San Diego in Tuesday's opener, and he could benefit from some greater offensive output. The Padres have scored two runs during his last two starts, and have provided him with two or fewer runs in six of his last seven outings.

LeBlanc is 1-6 with a 4.23 ERA in his last nine starts with the victory coming over the Pirates last month. The left-hander gave up four runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings Wednesday in a 9-0 loss to the Dodgers.

Pirates pitchers are near the bottom of the majors with a 5.08 ERA, and Jeff Karstens (2-7, 4.47) will go out in search of his first win since June 19.

Since beating Cleveland, the right-hander and San Diego native is 0-5 with a 4.17 ERA in eight starts. Karstens gave up three runs and nine hits in five innings of a 9-4 loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday.

Karstens is 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA in three career appearances including one start versus the Padres.

This has not been the season that Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera expected.

Cabrera, 23, was one of the Padres' biggest surprises of 2009.

After being selected out of the Rockies organization in the 2008 Rule 5 draft, Cabrera returned from an early-season injury (fractured hook of the hamate bone in his left hand) to start the final 97 games at short and hit .255 with a .342 on-base percentage and 25 steals.

Both the Padres and Cabrera expected the improvement to continue this season.

But Cabrera was hitting only .209 when he made the first of two trips to the disabled list with strains to the right hamstring.

Cabrera missed a total of 45 games and when he returned, the Padres were playing Jerry Hairston Jr. at short. Recently, Hairston move to second when David Eckstein went on the disabled list with a strained right calf muscle.

But the Padres acquired Miguel Tejada from Baltimore to be their primary shortstop in their pennant drive -- pushing Cabrera into a backup role. Not that he deserved more. Cabrera was hitting .190 when he got a start at short Sunday in Arizona with Tejada getting his first day off as a Padre.

Cabrera responded with his first three-hit game since the season's second game and triggered the Padres' four-run fifth with a lead-off triple.

"I know this season has not gone the way I expected," said Cabrera, who Padres manager Bud Black says is guilty of almost trying too hard at times. "He tries so hard every day to make a contribution," said Black. "He's been hard on himself."

"I have always been intense," said Cabrera. "But I've experienced some obstacles this year. That is not an excuse, but things changed directions."

Notes, Quotes

* RHP Mike Adams was activated from the disabled list Saturday. Although he missed 21 games, Adams said he returned sooner than he expected from his left oblique strain. "It didn't start feeling good until about a week ago," said the eighth-inning set-up man with a 2.13 ERA in 43 games. "I thought this could have been a six- to eight-week thing."

* RHP Ryan Webb (3.05 ERA in 39 games) was optioned to Class AAA Portland to make room for Mike Adams on the 25-man roster. Webb, 24, had options. After posting a 0.71 ERA in his first 20 appearances after being promoted from Portland on May 4, Webb had a 6.16 ERA since June 24. Padres manager Bud Black said Webb would return, probably no later than the Sept. 1 roster expansion.

* INF Jerry Hairston Jr. had his fifth three-hit game of the season Sunday in Arizona. All five of those three-hit games have come on the road, which is surprising since Hairston is hitting .270 at home this season against .239 on the road. Hairston also homered in the Padres' two last games in Arizona.

* Despite coming off a 3-4 road trip, the Padres still have the best road record in the National League at 30-24. More interesting is the Padres' 7-2 record in the final game of their nine trips.

* 1B Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .395 (17-for-43) against Arizona this season. He has five homers and nine RBIs against the Diamondbacks in 12 games.

By The Numbers: 13-1—The Padres' record this season when playing with two straight losses (they lost three straight only once, May 14-16 against the Dodgers at Petco Park).

7-2 -- The Padres' record on the final game of their nine road trips.

Quote To Note: "I'm still having pretty inconsistent at-bats. I'm taking some pitches I should be swinging at and swinging at some pitches I should be taking. I haven't been taking the swings I want to take." —RF Ryan Ludwick, who is 5-for-28 with two RBIs since joining the Padres via a trade from St. Louis.

Medical Watch:

* RHP Mike Adams (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 12. He threw a bullpen session July 24, and he threw a simulated game July 31, reporting no pain. He made a rehab appearance for Class AA San Antonio on Aug. 5, and he was activated Aug. 7.

* INF/OF Oscar Salazar (strained right Achilles tendon) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 1.

* 2B David Eckstein (strained right calf) went on the 15-day disabled list July 21. He took batting practice, fielded ground balls and ran Aug. 5, but he said he was sore Aug. 6.

* LF Kyle Blanks (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 18, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 29. He began a minor league rehab assignment June 1 but complained of pain in the elbow after a June 14 game. He had season-ending Tommy John surgery July 30.

* RHP Chris Young (right shoulder tightness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 17. He was shut down after struggling in a rehab start for Class AA San Antonio on May 2. Another limited throwing program was shut down in late June. He resumed throwing in early July, and he threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Aug. 7. It remained unclear when he might be able to return to action.

* 2B Matt Antonelli (left hand surgery in April 2010) was recalled from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list April 30.

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