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Padres aim to maintain August momentum vs. Angels

The San Diego Padres are on a bit of a roll.

Well, look at it this way: They won five games in July, and they've already won six times in August.

And it's just not the number of wins they have, it is who they have beaten.

-- They split a four-game series at Wrigley Field against the National League Central-leading Chicago Cubs.

-- The Padres then took a bus ride to Milwaukee and won two of three from the Brewers, who are contending in the NL Central.

-- The Padres returned home and took two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies, who came to San Diego in sole possession of first place in the NL East, but that's no longer the case.

Now the Padres welcome their closest neighbors to San Diego. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim come to Petco Park for a three-game series starting Monday night with an unusual pitching matchup of left-handers.

Clayton Richard (7-10, 5.13 ERA) will be starting for the Padres against the Angels' Andrew Heaney (7-7, 3.96 ERA).

Richard is the 34-year-old veteran of a Padres rotation that currently includes three rookies among its five members. It was a six-man rotation with four rookies until Walker Lockett was optioned back to Triple-A El Paso on Sunday after a third bad start.

What makes the Richard start interesting is that the Angels are the only team he has yet to face in his career. He is not new to interleague play. He has a 9-6 record with a 3.70 ERA in interleague action with 24 career appearances (19 starts).

But he has never faced the Angels, even during the first two seasons of his career back in 2008-2009, when he was launching his career in the American League with the Chicago White Sox.

Richard has struggled of late. He is 0-4 (and the Padres are 2-4) in his last six starts with a 7.50 ERA. Four of those starts have come on the road, where the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder is 5-7 in 14 starts with a 6.28 ERA. At Petco Park, Richard is 2/3 in 10 starts with a 3.76 ERA.

Don't be surprised by Richard's size. He is not a power pitcher. He thrives when he is down in the zone getting ground balls. He depends on his infield defense, which hasn't always been dependable this season.

Heaney has a different set of problems. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound 27-year-old has been a much different pitcher at home than he has been on the road.

When pitching at home, Heaney is 7-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 11 starts. Opposing hitters are batting only .212 against Heaney when he is pitching in Anaheim.

On the road, it's a totally different scenario. He is 0-5 with a 5.30 ERA in 10 starts. Opposing hitters are batting .267.

Another problem Heaney could have Monday night is that some of the Padres' hottest hitters -- outfielders Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes and Manuel Margot and catcher Austin Hedges -- are right-handed hitters who are at their best against left-handed pitchers.

Padres fans were looking forward to seeing Mike Trout, but the Angels All-Star can't come off the disabled list until the team leaves San Diego. Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons is also day to day. But the Angels still have Albert Pujols.

As for the Padres, outfielder Wil Myers is eligible to return from the disabled list on Monday, possibly as a third baseman.
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