(Sports Network) - The San Diego Padres have built a comfortable lead atop the National League's West Division, and their performance at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks has certainly played a part in the team's rise to first place.
The surprising Padres have their sights set on another sweep of the last-place Diamondbacks when the divisional foes wrap up a three-game series this afternoon at Petco Park.
San Diego improved to 8-0 against the Diamondbacks at home this season with Wednesday's 9-3 victory, the ninth in a row for the Padres as the host in this series. The win was also the Friars' ninth in the past 11 overall meetings between the clubs, and Bud Black's squad is now 10-4 versus Arizona over the course of this season.
With second-place San Francisco losing to Cincinnati on Wednesday, the Padres now own a season-high 6 1/2-game advantage on the Giants in the NL West standings.
Adrian Gonzalez belted a three-run homer and Miguel Tejada had a two-run shot to key last night's triumph, with Yorvit Torrealba contributing a two-RBI single in the third inning. Tejada ended the night 2-for-3 with three runs scored, while leadoff hitter David Eckstein collected three hits and also crossed the plate three times to help the Padres to their 13th win in the last 16 games.
San Diego also received solid pitching out of Wade LeBlanc (8-11), with the young southpaw working 6 2/3 innings and allowing three runs while striking out seven Arizona hitters.
Diamondbacks starter Joe Saunders (1-4) wasn't nearly as effective, as the midseason pickup was battered for nine runs (six earned) and eight hits before exiting after only four innings.
"It's embarrassing to go out there and give up that many runs," Saunders told MLB.com afterward. "Hats off to them, they're a good ballclub, but the way I've been pitching I'm making them look like Babe Ruth up there. I've just got to make adjustments."
Stephen Drew was a lone bright spot for Arizona, losers of three in a row and seven of its last nine contests, with the shortstop hitting two solo homers and finishing 4-for-4 at the plate.
The Padres will shoot for the sweep today behind Kevin Correia, a pitcher who's bested the Diamondbacks twice at Petco Park already this season and is 3-0 with a 2.63 earned run average over four lifetime encounters with Arizona held in San Diego. The right-hander also enters this afternoon's clash with a 5-2 record and 3.79 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break.
Correia did have a personal three-game winning streak come to an end with a setback at Milwaukee this past Saturday, however. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings in that one and struggled with command, issuing four walks in addition to giving up five runs.
Prior to that outing, the 30-year-old fired six shutout innings to defeat the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 16.
Correia has faced the Diamondbacks a total of 21 times, 12 of which have come as a starter, and is 4-6 with a 3.66 ERA lifetime against Arizona.
Arizona counters with Ian Kennedy, who comes in having won four of his past six decisions and has done a good job keeping his team in games, as the D- Backs have prevailed in six of the right-hander's last eight trips to the mound.
Kennedy did not get a decision his last time out after surrendering three runs on 10 hits in a five-inning stint against Colorado last Friday. The California native was quite sharp in his preceding start, holding Washington to a pair of runs and striking out seven over seven frames in a 9-2 Arizona victory on August 14.
The former New York Yankees first-round draft choice has notched a pair of no- decisions in two prior starts against San Diego this season. In his lone career appearance at Petco Park, Kennedy yielded just two hits and fanned seven over five shutout innings back on April 18.