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Phillies Try To Get Back On Track Against First Place Padres

(Sports Network) - The National League West-leading San Diego Padres have been pleased with how well Mat Latos has pitched this season and will send the young right-hander to the mound Friday in the opener of a three-game series versus the visiting Philadelphia Phillies at Petco Park.

Latos is a sizzling 8-1 with a 1.53 earned run average in his last 12 starts, with the Padres going 10-2 in that stretch. He previously took the mound in a 5-3 win at the Chicago Cubs last Thursday and limited the hosts to a pair of runs and five hits in seven innings. He also fanned 10 batters to improve to 13-5 with a 2.33 ERA in 23 starts.

The righty, who has struck out at least six batters in eight straight outings, faced Philadelphia for the first time in a 3-2 loss at Citizens Bank Park back on June 4 of this season. He surrendered three runs and four hits over five innings of work.

San Diego is hoping Latos can take advantage of a struggling Phillies squad tonight and is coming off a blowout loss to Arizona on Thursday in the finale of a three-game series. Kevin Correia was dealt the loss for permitting nine runs and nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings of work.

"It was a bad loss, but it's only one loss," Correia said. "We still won the series. I'm not happy with the way I went, but it had the feeling of one of those games where no matter what you did, you were going to lose the game."

Adrian Gonzalez belted a grand slam for the Padres, who entered the game with eight wins in its previous 10 contests and are six games ahead of San Francisco for the NL West lead. The Giants lost to the Reds on Wednesday.

Philadelphia will begin a seven-game road trip against the Padres, Dodgers and Rockies tonight and was just swept in four games at home by the lowly Houston Astros.

The Phillies, now a half-game behind San Francisco for the Wild Card lead, were looking to salvage the finale of their recent series and dropped a 5-1 decision Thursday afternoon. Kyle Kendrick was dealt the loss for allowing four runs and nine hits in six innings.

Chase Utley knocked in the only run for Philadelphia, which got three hits from Raul Ibanez and sit three games behind Atlanta for the top spot in the National League East Division.

"We're having trouble. We've been inconsistent all year, but now we're having trouble generating runs," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Manuel is hoping Roy Oswalt can get some run support when he takes the mound Friday night in San Diego. Oswalt is 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA in five starts with the Phillies and is unbeaten in his last three outings. In Sunday's 6-0 win over Washington, Oswalt delivered seven scoreless innings and struck out eight batters to push his overall mark to 9-13 in 25 starts with both the Astros and Phillies.

The right-hander has fared well in his career against the Padres, having gone 10-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 17 games, 15 of which have been starts. Oswalt did not record a decision at San Diego back on July 2 of this season, but struck out seven over seven shutout innings of three-hit ball.

Oswalt recently made a stint in the outfield for the Phillies in Tuesday's 16- inning loss versus Houston.

Philadelphia and San Diego split a four-game series from June 4-7 at Citizens Bank Park, but the Phillies have won seven of the past nine matchups between the two ballclubs.