06/28 Padres Preview: Game 80 @ Miami

Denis Poroy

The Padres open up a ten-game road trip in Miami tonight as Edinson Volquez goes up against Ricky Nolasco.

With the series loss to the Phillies, the Padres have dropped back below .500, but still claim the second place spot in the NL West. After yesterday's much-needed off day, they open up a four-game series at Marlins Park this afternoon.

Edinson Volquez will make the start and try to continue his lifetime dominance over Miami. He is 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins. But he is coming off a crushing loss to the Dodgers last Saturday. He began his night by cruising through the first five innings, flirting with a no-hitter before being hit hard in the 6th. After two hits and five runs (three unearned), he exited the game before recording the final out in the inning. Though he didn't allow a hit until the 6th inning, he walked a career-high seven batters.

But the walks were far from the worst part of the game. Three of the Dodgers' runs were caused by some awful defensive work by the Padres, something they've been struggling with lately. San Diego is 1-4 over their last five games, and much of that has had to do with their defensive troubles. They've combined for eight errors during that stretch, resulting in six unearned runs. On Wednesday's series finale against the Phillies, they committed three errors en route to a two-run loss in extra innings after leading 3-0 at one point. The Padres still have one of the best fielding percentages (.987) in the NL and much of their recent struggles have had to do with their starters dropping like flies to the disabled list, but with their impending returns to the lineup hopefully the trend will prove to be short-lived.

Their offense has dipped a little as well thanks to their injury woes. They'll need to be on their game tonight against Miami starter Ricky Nolasco. The right-hander, who is the center of many trade talks this season, including rumors involving the Padres, will go for his 5th win of the year as the Marlins go for their 12th win in 18 games. Nolasco has been one of Miami's best pitchers over the past few years and has the most wins (80) and strikeouts (998) in club history. He wasn't too impressive in his last start, however, giving up three runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, but he has posted a 2.87 ERA through his last seven outings. Tonight he'll try to push all the trade talks to the back of his mind and focus on improving his record over the Padres. He is 4-4 with a 4.69 ERA in nine career starts and one relief appearance against San Diego.

The Padres swept the Marlins earlier this season and are 9-3 in Miami since 2009. When the Marlins traveled to Petco Park in May, and the Padres outscored them 11-1 in that series. Nolasco pitched in the finale, giving up just one run on four hits while striking out nine through seven innings, but his offense failed to give him any run support and he ended up on the losing end of a 1-0 decision. But the Marlins have been playing much better baseball as of late, so he hopes for a better offensive showing this time around.

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