08/31/10 8:33 PM ET
Padres, D-backs draw aces for finale
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
The Padres have held control of the National League West for much of the season, and they closed out August with a winning record to mark their seventh winning month in a row. San Diego is the only NL team to earn that distinction, and only one American League team -- the Yankees -- has been able to match it.
Arizona, meanwhile, is coming off a month that breaks a trend instead of extending one. The D-backs earned a winning month in August, snapping a streak of five straight months with a losing record. Arizona, which won just seven games in July, hadn't posted a winning record in any month since going 15-14 in August of 2009.
The Padres, who are 21 games over .500 for the season, have already bested last year's win total (75 games). Despite losses in its past two games, San Diego still boasts the best road record of any NL team. The Padres will set that aside, though, when they meet Colorado, Los Angeles and San Francisco on their own home turf.
San Diego will hand the ball to its hottest pitcher -- second-year starter Mat Latos -- in Wednesday's series finale, and he'll be matched against Arizona rookie Barry Enright. Latos has managed to throw at least six innings and to hold the opposition to two earned runs or fewer in five straight starts, a taste of his recent dominance.
And if you track him further back, Latos has been even more impressive. The right-hander is holding opponents to a .192 batting average for the season, and he's given up two runs or fewer in 19 of his past 20 starts. Latos posted a 6.20 ERA in April, but he's managed to notch a mark under 2.50 in each of the next four months.
Enright has won four straight decisions in his own right, and he's completed at least six innings in seven of his first eight starts. Enright, a former second-round draftee, has yet to allow more than three earned runs. The right-hander notched a 1-2 record and a 2.93 ERA in July, then followed up by going 3-0 with a 2.05 mark in August.
The D-backs are 7-10 against San Diego this season, and Wednesday will represent the final time these two teams meet. Arizona is 9-5 in its past 14 games against division rivals, a run that comes after a 10-29 mark in its previous 39 games against NL West teams. Interestingly, Arizona got outscored 241-151 in that previous run.
San Diego has been in exclusive control of first place in the West in every day since June 18, and the Padres haven't been more than a game out of the top spot since April 18. San Diego has gone 28-24 against division rivals this season, and outside of Arizona, the other West teams all still boast a winning record.
Padres: Venable pacing Padres in steals
Will Venable went 0-for-4 but stole his team-leading 26th base of the season in Tuesday's loss, and he's just the 12th player in franchise history to notch at least 20 steals and 10 home runs in a season. Venable can become the 28th Padres player to steal 30 bases in a season, and only three of those have managed to hit 10 homers.
Veteran David Eckstein went 2-for-4 on Tuesday, and he's batting .286 (10-for-35) since returning from a month-long stint on the disabled list due to a strained right calf. San Diego has gone 43-47 when he starts at second base, and Eckstein is the only big league infielder to play at least 70 games without making an error.
D-backs: LaRoche coming off strong August
First baseman Adam LaRoche got a day off on Tuesday, but his monthly statistics still spoke for themselves. Prior to Tuesday's game, LaRoche stood second in the Majors with 71 total bases in August. The veteran also stood third with nine home runs, sixth with a .676 slugging percentage and ninth with 35 hits for the month.
The home runs set a new career-best for any month for LaRoche, and he came three RBIs shy of equaling his own standard. LaRoche has hit safely in five straight and in 21 of his past 30 games, with a .319 average over that longer span. In fact, LaRoche is a .300 career hitter in 416 games after the All-Star break.
San Diego's high-water mark for the season is 27 games over .500, and the franchise had done that just one other time in team history (1998). ... Padres closer Heath Bell has converted 24 straight save opportunities and leads the NL with 37 saves this season. Bell's streak is the longest for any closer in team history, with the exception of closer extraordinaire Trevor Hoffman. ... Adrian Gonzalez has 157 homers as a Padre, the second-highest total in franchise history. ... The D-backs have allowed 14 stolen bases in their past 31 games. Prior to that stretch, Arizona had allowed 92 thefts in its previous 102 games. ... The D-backs have had just five winning months since 2008.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.