The reigning division champions are just 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Giants and 3 1/2 behind the second-place Dodgers as the All-Star break nears. With Los Angeles struggling mightily, the D-backs could be well within striking distance by the time the second half rolls around.
Winners of six of their last 10 and 16 of their last 26 overall, the D-backs certainly aren't lacking confidence, despite Sunday's 2-1 walk-off loss to the Brewers. That game ended when throwing errors by Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra allowed Carlos Gomez to score the winning run in the ninth after a game-tying homer by Jason Kubel in the eighth.
But as they attempt to recover their momentum heading to the All-Star break, the D-backs won't be upset to see the last-place Padres come to town for a three-game series starting Monday at Chase Field. Arizona is 4-2 against San Diego this year and 12-2 in its last 14 home games against the Padres.
In the opener, Arizona will start Trevor Cahill, who has been dominant against his NL West rival, throwing to a 0.60 ERA in two starts against the Padres this season, both at Petco Park. In his last outing in San Diego, Cahill twirled his second career shutout, allowing just six hits and striking out five.
But something's got to give Monday, as San Diego starter Clayton Richard is 3-0 in five career starts against the D-backs. He's also been particularly strong of late, with a 2.66 ERA in his last nine starts and quality starts in eight of his last 11.
Richard will lead an energized San Diego squad to Phoenix, as the Padres received a jolt of energy from the arrival of catcher Yasmani Grandal from Triple-A Tuscon before Saturday's game in Colorado. Grandal homered from both sides of the plate in his first career start. Diminutive second baseman Alexi Amarista, whose first big league homer came on a go-ahead ninth-inning grand slam earlier in the week, also homered twice in the game.
Richard is hoping for similar support, as he was on the wrong end of a tough-luck loss to the Astros in which he gave up just one run on two hits in seven innings.
"Baseball's a funny game," Richard said after the start. "Sometimes you pitch well and you don't get the results you want. Sometimes you pitch poorly. It just goes to show how much of a team game this is. You have to have everything going to get wins, and that's sometimes tough to do."
At 30-50, the Padres know all too well how tough getting wins can be. Still, San Diego grabbed its fifth series win of the year with a victory over Colorado on Sunday, and is tied with the Rockies for fourth place in the NL West. Emerging from the division cellar would certainly be something for the Padres to hang their hat on, and a strong series against the D-Backs -- who are nine games ahead of San Diego -- would go a long way in helping the young Padres build the confidence needed to make a second-half run.
D-backs: Miley making trip to KC; Hill hopeful
Starter Wade Miley will represent Arizona at the 83rd All-Star Game in Kansas City next week. Miley was not part of the D-backs' rotation on Opening Day, but has been brilliant since finding a place after a Daniel Hudson injury in April. The lefty is 9-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 16 games.
Second baseman Aaron Hill, who cemented his place in history last week by hitting for the cycle for the second time in 11 days, is a Final Vote candidate. He is hitting .300 with eleven homers and 38 RBIs this season.
Outfielder Jason Kubel had a tremendous June, and all indications are he's continuing that hot streak into July. Kubel, who had two hits, including the game-tying homer in Sunday's game against the Brewers, led the NL with 27 RBIs in June. That total was the most in a month by a D-Backs player since Luis Gonzalez matched the feat in June 2003.
With his Sunday solo shot, Kubel has tied his 2011 total of 12. He is hitting .337 with 8 homers and 27 RBIs in his last 22 games.
Padres: Street gets All-Star nod
Closer Huston Street will be San Diego's representative at the All-Star Game on July 10 in Kansas City. The righty missed 29 games with a strained lat muscle, but was stellar before and after the injury, posting a 1.29 ERA with 12 saves and a win. He is eight for eight in save opportunities since being reinstated from the DL on June 5.
In 21 innings, Street has allowed just eight hits and six walks, while accumulating 28 strikeouts. He was acquired from the Rockies in December following the departure of closer Heath Bell to the Marlins. Bell was an All-Star for each of his last three seasons with the Padres (2009-11).
The D-backs' .686 winning percentage against the Padres at Chase Field is their best against any NL team.
Willie Bloomquist and Paul Goldschmidt have had plenty of success against the Padres in the five games between the teams this season. Bloomquist is 9-for-22 (.409), while Goldschmidt is 7-for-21 (.333) with two homers and four RBIs.
San Diego outfielder Chris Denorfia is 7-for-20 (.350) in the first seven games of the 10-game road trip and is 28-for-82 (.341) in his last 26 games.