Headley and the Padres have been nigh nearly unbeatable in the Steel City of late, winning their last 11 games at PNC Park, the longest active winning streak of any team at an opponent's home ballpark. They are 15-2 over their last 17 games against the Pirates, the best record of any NL team vs. another in that sample. They'll be chasing their second straight series sweep Sunday.
Headley has been at the center of that success. The Padres' third baseman, whose name was linked to the Pirates in trade talks around last month's Trade Deadline, has been brilliant against the Bucs, going 11-for-31 with 14 RBIs and four homers against them the past two seasons. He's been particularly deadly this series, going 4-for-15 with three homers and eight RBIs.
The Pirates haven't been Headley's only victims of late, however. He's hitting .311 over his last 28 games, already has career highs in home runs (18) and RBIs (70), and has three multi-home run games this season, most for a Padres player since 2007.
Pittsburgh southpaw Erik Bedard will be charged with slowing both Headley and his San Diego teammates in Sunday's series finale. Bedard may be just the man for the job, as he's had some success at PNC of late (3-4 with a 2.38 ERA in 10 starts in 2012), and against the Padres (4-0 with a 1.63 ERA in four career starts).
But the man on the mound for the Padres, former Pirate Ross Ohlendorf, has also had success at PNC. Ohlendorf pitched in Pittsburgh from 2008-2011, and had the best year of his career there in 2009. That season, Ohlendorf went 11-10 with a 3.92 ERA, a form he seems to be regaining of late. The 30-year-old has thrown four quality starts in his last five outings after struggling early in his San Diego tenure.
"I pitch different right now than I did a month ago. I feel like I'm always evolving," Ohlendorf said. "I started throwing a cutter a little bit -- I'm a similar pitcher to what I was in Pittsburgh, but I've always evolved for better or for worse."
As he faces his former team for the first time since leaving the black and yellow in 2011, the Padres certainly hope Ohlendorf's evolution proves to be for the better Sunday. The Pirates, on the other hand, hope to finally solve the Padres, as their Saturday loss combined with a Reds win dropped them to 4 1/2 games back in the National League Central. They hold a 1 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals for the final Wild Card spot entering Sunday.
Padres: Gregerson, Thayer to fill in for Street
Padres closer Huston Street was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday, leaving a void in what was emerging as one of the best back ends of a bullpen in baseball. Street, who hadn't allowed a run since June 20 prior to his injury and was a perfect 21-for-21 in save opportunities, exited Friday's win with a calf strain.
The Padres' late-game leads will still be in good hands. Luke Gregerson is in the midst of an impressive scoreless streak of his own, going 16 1/3 frames without allowing a run, dating back to July 4. Thayer filled in for Street when he was on the disabled list with a strained right lat muscle earlier this year, and tallied five saves.
Pirates: Marte's streak snapped
Pirates' rookie leadoff man Starling Marte had a six-game hitting streak snapped in Saturday's loss to Jason Marquis and the Padres. Marte has made 15 big league starts and led off in all of them. He already has seven multi-hit games in those 15 starts, and is 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The 23-year-old outfielder was hitting .286 for Triple-A Indianapolis prior to his callup, and his hitting .273 in his 15 games with Pittsburgh.
With his first-inning home run on Saturday, Chase Headley extended his hitting streak to seven games. His season-long streak is 12 games (June 26-July 7).