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ATL@SD: Kennedy strikes out seven against the Braves

The Padres head to PNC Park on Friday for the start of a three-game series against the Pirates, and if history is any indicator, they might just make themselves very much at home. Since Aug. 5, 2011, the Padres are 8-2 in road games against the Pirates.

San Diego has received some pitching gems along the way, like Andrew Cashner's one-hit shutout last Sept. 16. Two days after that, Tyson Ross allowed two runs over seven innings in a 3-2 victory.

Ian Kennedy will try to keep that run of good Padres pitching at PNC Park going when he starts the first game of the three-game series opposite Bucs righty Vance Worley.

Kennedy, for whatever reason, has had more success this season away from pitcher-friendly Petco Park. He owns a 3.18 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 11 road starts, numbers that increase to 4.00 and 1.29 at home.

. "I can't tell you why that is," Kennedy said.

This will be the second time Kennedy has faced the Pirates this season. He was the winning pitcher on June 4 at Petco Park, allowing two runs in six innings with one walk and seven strikeouts.

One of the runs he allowed came on a home run by Andrew McCutchen, who is dealing with a fractured rib and likely won't be available this series.

Worley, meanwhile, gets the ball for Pittsburgh and will look to build on what is arguably his best two-start stretch since joining the Pirates' rotation in mid-June -- one run in 15 innings, including a shutout of the Giants on July 28.

The Pirates gave him a shot in the big league rotation when injuries created an opening, and Worley has made the most of it, posting a 2.48 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in nine games (eight starts). His ERA has dropped nearly a run since the All-Star break.

Padres: Alonso's bat is hot
Since returning from the 15-day disabled list on July 26, Yonder Alonso -- who had suffered from right wrist tendinitis -- has been red-hot, notching three hits in each of his past two games.

"It [stinks] when you are out for a month like I was, but I had to make sure that I was healthy," Alonso said after Wednesday's 5-4 victory over the Twins. "I had to make sure I was confident in myself and my approach. But now I'm healthy, and I feel normal again. I feel like I can make things happen."

Alonso, who owns a .225/.267/.372 slash line on the season, is hitting .429 in 10 games since returning from a nearly six-week stint on the DL.

Pirates: McCutchen hoping to avoid DL
As the Pirates took their regular rounds of batting practice Wednesday at PNC Park, all McCutchen could do was watch.

The center fielder has a fracture of his 11th rib, which is the second rib from the bottom. In a statement Tuesday, the Pirates identified the injury as an avulsion fracture, which occurs when a portion of bone is chipped away from the main bone, and added that the injury involves the cartilage of the 11th rib.

McCutchen is hoping to avoid the DL despite not being able to swing a bat or throw a ball. The Pirates hope he will be healthy again sometime in the next two weeks.

"[The plan is to] keep evaluating me and see how I feel right now," said McCutchen, who has never spent time on the DL in his five-year Major League career. "We don't want to make a decision yet. We don't want to put me on the DL right away because there's a chance I could be better before 15 days are up. There's a chance."

Worth noting
• Neil Walker (back tightness) was not in the Bucs' starting lineup for the fourth time in five games Thursday. Manager Clint Hurdle said before the game that the second baseman might take some swings in the batting cage.

• Kennedy hasn't lost since June 25, and he has only missed one start, due to a sore left oblique toward the end of July. Comments