(Sports Network) - The best team in the National League West, the San Diego Padres, will begin the second half of the season Friday against the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the opener of a three-game series at Petco Park.
San Diego is two games ahead of Colorado and a comfortable 17 1/2 games in front of the basement dwelling Diamondbacks in the division standings. It headed to the All-Star break with five wins over the previous nine contests and salvaged the finale of a three-game set at the Rockies with a 9-7 win last Sunday.
Everth Cabrera hit a two-run homer and Scott Hairston finished 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored in the win. Jerry Hairston Jr. recorded three hits, two runs scored and knocked in a run, while Chase Headley was credited with a pair of RBI for the Padres, who received a rough outing from starter Clayton Richard. The lefty did not figure into the decision and allowed six runs on six hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings.
Luke Gregerson posted the win in relief and All-Star closer Heath Bell got the last five outs for his 24th save of the season.
"For us to go into the break two games up and to have four days off, we're going to go out there and rejuvenate ourselves and play some good baseball in the second half," Bell said.
Jon Garland could use a boost right now and will take the mound for the Padres in Friday's series opener. Garland is 2-4 in the last six decisions and lost his most recent start on July 7 at Washington, as he gave up six runs and eight hits in six innings of a 7-6 setback.
Garland is 8-6 with a 3.56 earned run average in 18 starts this season thanks to a solid home ledger. In nine starts at Petco Park this season, the righty is 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA. He is 0-1 in two starts against Arizona this season and 2-2 in six career matchups -- all starts -- with the D'Backs.
Padres second baseman David Eckstein (calf) and center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. (heel) are both probable for this evening's game.
Arizona dropped seven of nine contests before the break and hopes to get off to a decent start in the second half of the 2010 campaign. After firing both their manager and general manager in a busy first half to the season, the Diamondbacks split a four-game set versus the Florida Marlins prior to the extended rest and sustained a 2-0 loss in Sunday's series finale.
Barry Enright made the start and was dealt the loss for yielding both runs and four hits through five innings. Chris Young, Kelly Johnson and Justin Upton has two hits apiece for Arizona.
"We certainly could have won this series, no question about it. Our pitching was really good," said D'Backs interim skipper Kirk Gibson.
One Arizona pitcher who hasn't been that good lately is tonight's starter Dan Haren, who is 0-3 in his last five starts. The Diamondbacks have lost all of those outings, including a July 9 performance versus the Marlins in which Haren permitted three runs and 10 hits in 6 2/3 frames.
Haren, a right-hander, is 7-7 with a 4.36 earned run average in 19 starts this season and beat San Diego in his 2010 debut back on April 5. In the 6-3 victory over the Friars, Haren hurled seven innings of one-run ball and scattered three hits. He is 5-1 in 13 career games (12 starts) in this series.
San Diego has won four of six meetings with Arizona this season and six of the previous 10 contests between the NL West foes.