If the Padres are going to be a contender in the West they’ll need to improve at home. 

The Padres hope the turnaround begins tonight when they host the Astros in the first of four at Petco Park in San Diego.

Game time is 7:05 PM PT with Tim Stauffer going for San Diego opposite Houston’s Bud Norris. MLB lines opened with the Padres as -140 favorites and the moneyline has since moved to -130 with the total going from 6.5 to 6.

Bud Black will be looking for a bounce back from yesterdays loss to the BravesSan Diego is a staggering 9-20 at home and has scored just 65 runs. They’re hoping that a just completed 4-2 road trip will give them the jump start they need to get back in the race in the National League West. If that’s to happen the offense will need to participate and not just observe.

The Padres ended their road trip with a 4-3 loss in Atlanta (which was John Ryan's 20* pick, so well done if you had that) on Wednesday giving them a total of 19 runs in the six games. However the pitching staff came up big again, holding the Nationals and Braves to 17 runs in the past six games.

Clean Sweep

The Astros brook out their brooms at Wrigley Field taking all three games from the Cubs including Wednesday’s series finale 3-1. Brett Myers continued his dominance of Chicago working six innings and giving up just three hits and a run. He’s beaten the Cubs six straight and is now 12-3 lifetime. Offensively the Astros lineup produced 11 hits including two apiece for Michael Bourn, Clint Barmes, Cliff Lee and Jeff Keppinger. Jason Michaels added a home run for Houston.

Overall the Astros are third in the National League in hitting (.261) and 17th in runs per game (4.12). What’s killing Houston is the lack of a true home run threat. They’re 26th in home runs (36) and their next four-games will be played in the toughest hitters parks in baseball.

I’ll put on my meteorologist hat for a moment and tell you that this time of year the air is very ‘heavy’ in San Diego. The marine layers moves in from the coast and long fly balls that would over the fence in other ballparks are nothing more than warning track outs at Petco Park. If you’ve heard the expression “June Gloom” it’s a weather term, not to be confused with a forecast of the Padres fortunes.

Bud Norris will go to the mound for the Astros tonightSD has slugged just 34 home runs this year and is last in both scoring (3.39) and hitting (.230). Ryan Ludwick, who once upon a time hit as many as 37 homers in a season (2008), has just eight this season. San Diego is next to last in runs scored (190) and the bottom line, just like it was last year and the year before that, it’s pitching or bust for manager Bud Black’s team.

Mound matchup

Tim Stauffer (1-3, 3.60) will be on the hill tonight for the Padres as he goes for his second-straight win after beating the Nationals 2-1 in his last outing. This will be just his third lifetime appearance against the Astros with the previous two starts yielding no decisions.

Bud Norris (2-4, 3.76) will be out to snap a string of losses and no-decisions dating back to May 1. He beat the Padres on April 14 twirling six scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory.

The ‘under’ looks safe

Based on recent history, it’s tough to imagine that either of these teams will do much in the way of scoring this weekend. The Padres are averaging just over two runs per game at home where the ‘under’ has cashed for baseball bettors to the tune of 16-11-2 at home. Overall San Diego is on a 9-3 streak to the low side.

The Astros may not be the team to take advantage of the Padres Petco problems. Houston is just 11-17 on the road and is giving up 5.25 runs per game as a visitor.

Harvey’s take: Put me down for the ‘under’ in each game of the series and we’ll settle up things on Monday.