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Phillies point to postseason, Padres point to future

SAN DIEGO -- The San Padres and Philadelphia Phillies meet Sunday afternoon in the rubber match of a three-game series at Petco Park.

But the result of one game is much more meaningful to the Phillies than the Padres.

Philadelphia regained the lead -- by a game over Atlanta -- in the National League East Saturday night with a 5-1 victory over the Padres.

Meanwhile, the Padres, who are rebuilding for 2020 or 2021, will look at a rookie pitcher for the third straight game.

But the pitcher opposing Jake Arrieta is no longer a rookie's rookie.

Left-hander Joey Lucchesi will be making his 18th start for the Padres. He has a 5-6 record and a 3.70 earned run average. The right-handed Arrieta, meanwhile, is 9-6 with a 3.11 ERA going into his 23rd start.

Arrieta, of course is one of the league's premier pitchers. He ranks eighth in the National League with a 3.11 ERA and 10th with a 3.20 road ERA and third with a 2.52 night time ERA -- although that doesn't figure to factor in Sunday under the bright Southern California sun.

Arrieta has allowed 61 runs this season, only 44 of which have been earned on 113 hits and 40 walks with 91 strikeouts -- for a .242 opponents' batting average and a 1.20 WHIP.

But Lucchesi, who features a funky delivery and an "out pitch" he calls a "churve" doesn't have numbers far different than Arrieta. Opposing hitters are batting .243 against Lucchesi. And he has allowed 38 runs (34 earned) on 76 hits and 28 walks with 87 strikeouts in 82 2/3 innings -- for a 1.26 WHIP.

The one thing Lucchesi hasn't done thus far is face the Phillies. He was still with Triple-A El Paso coming out of the All-Star break -- in a move made by the Padres to limit his innings -- when they were in Philadelphia.

In three starts since returning, Lucchesi has allowed 10 runs on 19 hits and three walks with 21 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings -- a 5.87 ERA as his overall ERA has jumped up a third of a run. He has also given up four home runs since returning to give him a total of 14 homers allowed during his first major league campaign.

Arrieta will be making his sixth career start against the Padres and his second this season. Overall, Arrieta is 2-1 against the Padres with a 3.76 ERA -- allowing 13 runs (11 earned) on 22 hits and 12 walks with 22 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings. But in his lone start against the Padres this season, Arrieta lasted only 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks.

The Phillies took two of three from the Padres in Philadelphia and need a win Sunday to claim the season series. The Padres, of course, would be more than happy to win this series and split the season series.

San Diego is 1-1 at home after coming off one of their most successful road trips of the season -- a 4-3 tour of Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs.
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