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Can Padres keep hitting at Petco?

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The San Diego Padres' torrid attack finally cooled off in the last game of their road trip Tuesday. Now the big question is can the suddenly supple offense keep producing at Petco Park?

After a dismal April, the Padres took to the road May 9 and began hitting. They had a streak of six games in which they scored at least six runs before Tuesday's 6-1 loss at Arizona. They raised their team batting average from .215 to .236. The big bats in the middle of the lineup, Ryan Ludwick, Brad Hawpe and Cameron Maybin, all got hot.

Now they return to Petco Park for an eight-game homestand starting Wednesday against Milwaukee. They play 19 of their next 25 games at home. It could be a stretch that defines the Padres' season. Will they revert to form at Petco -- where they are 7-14 and have not hit a lick -- or will they keep swinging the bats?

It's an interesting split. The Padres are hitting .265 on the road, fourth-best in the National League -- but .206 at home, dead last. They're slugging .379 away, a puny .317 at home. They've scored 106 runs in 21 road games, only 54 in 21 games at home.

The big park, where the ball doesn't carry well in the cool spring weather, has clearly gotten into some players' heads. Ludwick, who leads the team with seven home runs and 26 runs batted in, is hitting .158 in San Diego.

Another concern for manager Bud Black is that starting pitchers Tim Stauffer and Dustin Moseley (who starts Wednesday), the team's aces in April, got roughed up on the road, and Aaron Harang gave up a bunch of runs.

That may change as well with a heavy dose of games at Petco, where pitchers thrive but Padres bats haven't.



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