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PIT@SD: Volquez fans 10 en route to his eighth win

The Padres certainly seem to enjoy slowing teams' pursuit of the playoffs. Just ask the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team fighting to hang around in the National League Central and Wild Card pictures, whom San Diego swept earlier this week. The Padres next victim appears to be the D-Backs, who will fight to avoid a series sweep at the hands of the pesky Padres Sunday when the teams play their series finale.

The D-Backs are well within reach of the NL Wild Card, and are hanging around in the NL West, too, though that their playoff fortunes rest on beating the experienced Giants and recently-bolstered Dodgers is certainly an ominous fact to consider. Nevertheless, at six games out of the Wild Card, contests against teams like the Padres are must-wins.

They'll look to get back on track behind Trevor Cahill, who gets the start after Joe Saunders -- who was originally set to make the start -- was traded to the Orioles earlier Sunday.

Cahill fell to San Diego on July 2, yielding four runs -- two earned -- over six innigns, and hasn't won since July 30. But he's been giving Arizona innings, going at leas six in six straight starts.

The Padres counter with Edinson Volquez, who has speckled flashes of utter brilliance this year with a handful of outings in which his command has abandoned him.

His last outing was more of the former, as he rung up a season-high 10 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings over Pittsburgh. The righty had failed to escape the fourth inning in any of four outings prior to that.

"Tonight was more indicative of what he can do," manager Bud Black said after Volquez's most recent outing. "But, I still think there is a cleaner game in there for him, I really do. His ball-strike ratio wasn't where it needs to be overall. I'd still say there is more in there, because he's a good pitcher. He's got good stuff. But, I think the mechanics were a little cleaner."

D-Backs: Upton's big birthday

Justin Upton celebrated his 25th birthday Saturday with an inside-the-park home run, the second hit by a D-Backs player this season. Ryan Roberts, since traded to Tampa Bay, hit one on June 20.

Upton has turned in many strong performances on his birthday, going 5 for 15 (.333) with four runs scored and two RBIs. He's also cleaning up at home of late, reaching base in 18 straight home games and hitting .375 (21 for 56) with five doubles, three triples, two homers and 13 RBIs.

Making that surge all the more impressive is that Upton has been at the center of some off-field intrigue recently, after reports surfaced that he was claimed off of waivers by an unknown team. That news came in the midst of a three-game stretch in which Upton was out of the lineup due to a nagging hamstring issue. His inside-the-park homer came in his first at-bat back from that injury.

Padres: Headley's historic month

With his solo home run in the first inning of Saturday's win over the D-Backs, Chase Headley tallied his 10th home run in August, the most for any Padre since Phil Nevin recorded 10 in 1999.

Headley also has 28 RBIs this month, which is tied for the sixth-most by a Padre in the month of August in history. Headley leads the big leagues in both those categories.

If Headley continues on his torrid pace, he'll be passing some interesting names on the Padres' list of All-Time August Greats. With one more home run before the calendar flips to September, he'll tie current San Diego hitting coach Phil Plantier (1993) for the second-most homers in the month ever. He needs three more RBIs to chase down Plantier (30 in 1993) for the third most in Padres history.

Worth Noting
• Everth Cabrera's streak of 24 straight stolen bases without being caught came to an end when he was thrown out by Miguel Montero in the third inning on Saturday. Cabrera's streak is the club record for most consecutive successful steals to start a season. Comments