Barring a late-season collapse, the Arizona Diamondbacks are all but certain to still be playing come October.
A three-game set with the struggling San Diego Padres could help them inch closer to their first division crown since 2007.
Looking to regroup from a rare loss, the Diamondbacks try for a seventh victory in eight games against the Padres as the teams meet Friday night at Petco Park.
Arizona (87-63), which has gone an NL-best 18-4 since Aug. 23, was held to fewer than three runs for the just the third time over that span Wednesday in a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Willie Bloomquist, Justin Upton, Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Young - the team's 1-3-4-6 hitters - each went 0 for 4.
"Their guys shut us down," manager Kirk Gibson told the Diamondbacks' official site. "They did a good job, give them credit, tip you hat and move on."
Arizona will look to do just that against San Diego (63-87), which enters this series having lost 17 of 20 after suffering a three-game sweep at San Francisco with Wednesday's 3-1 defeat. With the teams going in opposite directions, Padres manager Bud Black knows his team will have its hands full over the weekend.
"They've got a good thing going on right now," he said. "They're playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of momentum, a revamped pitching staff. Some young pitchers have come on. The middle of their lineup's doing a nice job.
"A couple new guys have infused a little energy into their club. Just a lot of confidence and momentum right now."
Arizona has taken nine of the last 11 meetings in this series while outscoring San Diego 52-26. While Petco has a reputation for being a pitchers' park, Upton has thrived there of late, going 6 for 18 with four homers and six RBIs during a modest five-game hitting streak.
Upton is 5 for 15 lifetime against scheduled starter Tim Stauffer (8-12, 3.87 ERA), who has gone 0-3 with a 7.58 ERA his last four starts. The right-hander yielded three runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings of Saturday's 6-5, 10-inning loss at Arizona.
Stauffer is surely looking forward to getting back home, where he is 5-2 with a 1.79 ERA over his last eight starts.
The Diamondbacks counter with rookie Wade Miley (3-1, 4.50), who opposed Stauffer last week. The lefty saw his three-start winning streak come to an end during that outing, surrendering five runs and eight hits in five innings.
Despite an impressive individual record, opponents are batting .315 against Miley since he was promoted from Triple-A on Aug. 16. He's also struggled with his control, walking 14 in 28 innings.
Miley, though, has won his last two road starts while compiling a 1.38 ERA and faces a Padres team which has scored an MLB-low 52 runs while batting .218 since Aug. 24.
Miley will likely have to face catcher Nick Hundley, who is expected back in the lineup after getting Wednesday off. Hundley has gone 38 for 92 (.413) in 27 games since he was activated from the disabled list Aug. 12 (strained right elbow).