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SD@ARI: Richard hurls eight innings of three-run ball

A late-season meeting between the Padres and Rockies -- the two clubs in the National League West cellar -- has suddenly turned into a matchup of two of the league's hottest teams.

Despite dropping Wednesday's series finale to the Dodgers, the Rockies come into the weekend series having won eight of their last 11 contests. Not to be outdone, San Diego has won nine of its last 10 games and will bring its momentum into the series opener against Colorado on Friday.

Both clubs sport winning records for the month of August, with Colorado sitting at 16-12 and San Diego at 17-10. Each club will also have the luxury of an off-day Thursday before opening the three-game series.

That day figures to provide some extra rest for the Rockies' bullpen, which is likely to see its fair share of action Friday night as Colorado continues to limit Alex White's pitch counts. White, who is 2-6 with a 5.49 ERA in 16 starts this season, has pitched just four innings in each of his last five starts and hasn't exceeded 84 pitches in any of his last nine.

Considering starting pitchers need to go at least five innings to qualify for a win, White hasn't picked up a victory since June 3 despite the Rockies winning five of his last six starts.

"Sometimes when the starter goes four and I come in and get the win, I feel like a jerk," said reliever Carlos Torres, who was credited with the victory in White's last outing. "But you take what you can get in this game, because usually it takes it from you. You'd like starters to get wins. In the bullpen, we just like to do our jobs and get outs."

The Padres will counter with Clayton Richard, who on the contrary has needed little help from his bullpen recently. Richard has pitched eight solid innings in each of his last two outings and turned in his second career shutout earlier this month.

The left-hander has been lights-out in August, going 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA in five starts. The only downfall to Richard pitching so well of late is his season total for innings pitched is quickly approaching the 200-inning mark.

Richard's last outing, an eight-inning victory on Saturday, raised his season total to 184 innings. It's that number that led to manager Bud Black to not even consider letting the southpaw pitch the final frame for the complete game.

"He prides himself on his endurance, his stamina and his conditioning," Black said.

Padres: Thatcher eyeing return
Left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, scheduled to throw a one-inning a rehab assignment with Class A Lake Elsinore on Wednesday, expects to be activated from the disabled list prior to or during the club's trip to Colorado.

Thatcher has been on the disabled list, retroactive to July 26, with right knee tendinitis. The 30-year-old lefty specialist has a 3.42 ERA to go along with his 28 strikeouts over 26 1/3 innings in 40 appearances this season.

Rockies: Pachecho gets shot at cleanup spot
After hitting cleanup in Wednesday's series finale, first baseman Jordan Pachecho has now hit every spot in the Rockies' lineup this season except leadoff and the ninth slot.

Hitting cleanup was a first this season for Pachecho, but the 26-year-old downplayed the role and said he'll continue to approach his at-bats the same way. That's likely music to manager Jim Tracy's ears, as the skipper hopes Pachecho will provide some protection for slugger Carlos Gonzalez in the three spot.

"I'm not looking for him to hit the ball over the fence or anything like that," Tracy said. "But I know ... we'll get a very professional at-bat, and the door's also open to do other things if situations present themselves because he's very, very good at it. He's off the charts [with bat control], so that's why we went that direction."

Worth noting
• Padres outfielder Will Venable is 4-for-6 with two doubles, a triple and a home run in his career against White.

• The Padres haven't won the season series against Colorado since going 11-7 against the Rockies in 2005. San Diego is 7-5 in head-to-head meetings so far this season.

• Richard is one of just two Padres pitchers -- along with Edinson Volquez -- to make all of his starts this season. San Diego has used 15 starters this year, tying a team record.

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