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09/06 Padres Preview: Game 140 vs. Colorado

Rookie Burch Smith gets another big league start in the opening of a three-game set against the Rockies.

Steve Mitchell

The Padres finally got a series win when the Giants came to town, but they were unable to complete the sweep as the pitching staff was hammered for 13 runs on 17 hits. After yesterday's off day, they will continue their stretch against NL West opponents as they welcome the Rockies to Petco Park to face them for the final time this season.

As the Padres continue to use this month to evaluate some of the younger players in their system, they will give Burch Smith another start in tonight's series opener. The rookie right-hander is in his fourth stint with the big league club this season, having appeared in six games overall. Tonight's outing will be his fourth carer start after making his first three back in May when Clayton Richard hit the disabled list and Tyson Ross was still coming back from injury and pitching out of the bullpen. Smith didn't fare too well in those previous starts, pitching a total of just 7 1/3 innings and giving up 15 runs on 16 hits. However, his performance at the triple-A level has earned him another shot in the bigs now that rosters are expanding with September callups. As a member of the Tucson Padres this season, he went 5-1 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts.  This time around, as the season winds down, he'll try to make more out of this opportunity and live up to his no. 9 ranking among Padres prospects.

Smith will be facing a Rockies team fresh off a winning homestand and looking to win consecutive road games for the first time in over two months. Tonight marks the beginning of a nine-game road trip for Colorado after having gone 5-4 at home this past week and a half. The Rockies have been pretty dominant over the Padres this season, taking 12 of the their 16 contests, including a 5-1 record at Petco Park coming into this series. They've also outscored them 96-62 over the course of the season.

They'll be sending Juan Nicasio to the mound to improve on a short but successful career against San Diego. In four career starts, spanning 25 1/3 innings, against the Padres, he is 2-0 with a 3.20 ERA. Only one of those took place this season. On June 9th, he gave up two runs and collected seven strikeouts while tossing six innings of a 10-inning Rockies win. In his most recent outing, Nicasio was tagged for six runs in 4 1/3 innings of work in a loss to the Reds. His inconsistency this season has been his main issue this season. Though he has a 6.00 ERA over his last seven starts, that included a stretch of three starts, prior to his outing against the Reds, in which he 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA.

The Padres, though coming off their series win over the Giants, remain below the Rockies by three games in the standings. Despite losing the final game against SF, they were able to put together a modest five runs, their highest offensive output in six games. Chase Headley returned to the lineup yesterday after missing six straight games with a sore back. He hit a home run and finished the game 1-for-3 with a walk. Headley has had a disappointing season following his breakout 2012 year. He'll be looking to at least close out his season on a high note, and a start tonight against Nicasio might help. Headley is a career 6-for-9 with two homers against the right-hander. However, last month he went hitless in 12 at-bats at Coors as the Padres dropped two of three games.

The final series of the season between these two teams will kick off at 7:10 tonight.