By PAUL DIGIACOMO
(AP) -- With the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres on the fringe of the playoff race, it's safe to say one of these teams will no longer be there when this three-game series concludes.
The visiting Padres are further back in the hunt for the second wild-card spot in the NL, but they may have a good chance to make up some ground starting Tuesday night considering their recent performances against Arizona.
San Diego (71-76) trails St. Louis by six games for the second berth while Arizona (72-74) is 4 1/2 behind the Cardinals. With a handful of teams in front of them, it is going to be difficult for the Padres or Diamondbacks to jump into playoff position, especially for the club that loses this series.
"You look (at the scoreboard), but just looking isn't going to help," outfielder Jason Kubel told the Diamondbacks' official website. "You have to worry about what's going on with you before you scoreboard watch and worry about what other people are doing. First thing is winning games."
San Diego has been doing that over the past month, going 19-6 in its last 25 games. The Padres are 5-1 against the Diamondbacks over that stretch and have won eight of nine meetings - including six straight in Arizona - after losing four of the first six.
The Padres took two of three at home over Colorado this past weekend, blowing a six-run lead late Sunday before winning 12-11 on Yonder Alonso's RBI single in the ninth inning.
Alonso went 4 for 5 with two RBIs and is batting .429 (9 for 21) while driving in eight runs in his past six games. He's hitting .259 with 10 RBIs in 14 games against Arizona this season, including 4 for 9 with a homer off scheduled starter Ian Kennedy (13-11, 4.21 ERA).
"We feel good about ourselves and where we are headed," Alonso said.
The Diamondbacks have struggled to a 6-7 mark this month, avoiding a three-game sweep at home Sunday with a 10-2 rout of NL West-leading San Francisco.
Justin Upton continued his recent strong play with a solo homer and two-run double. He's batting .333 with three home runs and seven RBIs over his last seven games, with two of the homers coming over the weekend.
"Just trying to get some good pitches to hit, be a little more patient, see the ball over the middle of the plate and put a good swing on it," Upton said. "I've tried to stay positive all year and keep going. Stringing together a couple of good days is nice."
Upton has had success in his career against Padres starter Eric Stults (6-2, 2.54), going 3 for 7 with a homer. Stults, though, comes into this matchup pitching well.
The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA over his last four starts, winning 5-0 in Arizona on Aug. 24 behind seven innings of three-hit ball. He allowed six runs - three earned - and three homers over 6 1-3 innings of a 6-0 home loss to the Diamondbacks on June 3.
Kennedy enters having sandwiched a pair of good starts around a poor one. The right-hander pitched 6 1-3 shutout innings to win at Los Angeles on Aug. 30, allowed five runs over seven while not receiving a decision in a victory in San Francisco on Sept. 4, and beat the Dodgers again last Tuesday with another 7 1-3 scoreless innings.
He's 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against San Diego this season.
Updated September 17, 2012