He still has a losing record, but lately, Vicente Padilla has been pitching like an ace.
Since a seven-game stretch in which he suffered six losses, Padilla has been dominant, going 2-0 in three outings and allowing just three earned runs over 21 1-3 innings. Making the numbers even more impressive, two of the starts were against the NL-leading Atlanta Braves.
“He’s throwing with a lot of confidence,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. “I don’t think he liked getting beat. I guess he took it personally.”
In his last start, an 8-1 win over the Braves on Wednesday, the righty allowed one run and four hits over seven innings
“I feel great right now,” said Padilla. “I’m throwing my slider real well and I’m locating my fastball real well, which was the key tonight.”
The Phillies are coming off a 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, completing a three-game sweep at Camden Yards.
Jose Mesa got the final three outs for his 17th save of the season and team-record 104th since coming to Philadelphia in November 2000. He broke the club mark held by Steve Bedrosian, who had 103 saves from 1986-89.
“When he goes out there everybody feels the game is over and he’s going to get the job done,” said Jim Thome, who hit his 20th homer of the season.
The winning streak has moved the Phillies 10 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2001 season.
The Cubs ended a season-high four-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox on Sunday. Kerry Wood gave up two runs and four hits in eight innings and Moises Alou and Jose Hernandez homered for Chicago.
“Going into spring training, we felt we shouldn’t have any long, spiraling losing streaks,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “Kerry gave a gusty performance. That’s what an ace does.”
STANDINGS: Cubs - 2nd place (tied), 1 GB, NL Central. Phillies - 2nd place, 6 1/2 GB, NL East.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Shawn Estes (6-6, 5.40 ERA). Estes, 1-3 in his last six starts, is looking for his first win since June 10. In Thursday’s 12-6 loss to Milwaukee, the left-hander allowed one unearned run and five hits over six innings, but did not receive a decision. In nine career starts against the Phillies, Estes is 4-2 with a 6.51 ERA.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Padilla (6-7, 3.76 ERA). In 11 games against the Cubs, including two starts, Padilla is 1-3 with a 4.76 ERA.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Phillies, 4-2
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cubs - SS Alex Gonzalez is 0-for-6 against RHP Padilla… 1B Hee Seop Choi is expected to rejoin the Cubs on Monday. Choi was placed on the disabled June 8 after he sustained a concussion. RHP Todd Wellemeyer was optioned to Triple-A Iowa after Sunday’s game to make room for Choi. … The Cubs have won back-to-back games once over their last 17 contests. Phillies - OF Bobby Abreu is 4-for-9 against LHP Estes with two doubles. … The Phillies last won six straight from Aug. 21-27. … Philadelphia has won six of seven at home.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cubs - 22-19 on the road; Phillies - 23-16 at home.
INJURIES: Cubs - C Damian Miller (foot), day-to-day; LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Dave Veres (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL. Phillies - INF Tyler Houston (finger), 15-day DL; RHP David Coggin (shoulder), 15-day DL